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Photo shows the back of a student looking at a computer screen with a professor lecturing on the screen for an online class.This fall, Carolina’s incoming first-year and transfer students will have the opportunity to participate in Carolina Away, a new remote learning program designed specifically for the coronavirus pandemic.

The program will allow students to take courses entirely online and participate in remote small-group experiences with classmates, faculty and staff through a digital-first framework. It is specifically designed to support Carolina’s newest students in their transition to college life, even from afar.

Rudi Colloredo-Mansfeld (photo by Kristen Chavez)
Rudi Colloredo-Mansfeld (photo by Kristen Chavez)

“Carolina Away is really a program to optimize the digital learning experience for incoming Carolina students,” said Rudi Colloredo-Mansfeld, the senior associate dean for social sciences and global programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, and also serves as the academic director for Carolina Away. “It is really tailored to help students launch their college career, gain real progress on the path of study they want to take and to feel like they belong to this place, to give them a community.”

While Carolina Away students won’t be physically on campus this fall, they will still have virtual access to essential campus resources like the UNC Writing Center, Learning Center and academic advising to help them succeed.

“We have really pursued a new vision for advising, in which advisors start from the very beginning working with students’ ideas and goals they have for their studies, and for the advisors to understand those and help students frame the choices they can make from there,” Colloredo-Mansfeld said.

A main component of the Carolina Away experience is “COVID Investigations,” a series of 12 one-credit hour courses that will explore the coronavirus pandemic’s impact through various academic disciplines in the College of Arts & Sciences. All Carolina Away students are required to take a COVID Investigations course, in addition to their other remote learning classes.

“It is a series that really takes a front and center [look at] how remarkable it is to be starting college this year, this fall, in the middle of a pandemic,” Colloredo-Mansfeld said. “Our students are going to have their college career and, in fact, their lives, shaped by this, and we really wanted to bring together a very interesting set of classes that will allow students to make sense of this moment.”

The courses will be taught by teams of graduate teaching fellows and Carolina faculty and will explore topics such as data science and the COVID-19 pandemic and race, equity and disease. Some courses will feature guest lecturers, such as leading data scientists from around the world and regional musicians.

Colloredo-Mansfeld hopes that the COVID Investigations courses, as well as the Carolina Away program as a whole, will foster a sense of community among Carolina Away students and provide them with a unique and memorable experience to begin their time at Carolina.

“I hope they get excited about what they’re going to do next at Carolina, and I hope that they gain a group of allies and friends to connect with when they step onto this campus,” Colloredo-Mansfield said. “I hope that this becomes a touchstone experience for these students.”

Learn more about Carolina Away.

By Korie Dean, UNC Communications 

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