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Reckoning: Race, Memory and Reimagining the Public University was a shared learning initiative in the College of Arts & Sciences that took place in fall 2019. It was designed to support student learning and discussions about heritage, race, post-conflict legacies, politics of remembrance and contemporary projects of reconciliation. The classes allowed students to understand what comparative cases reveal about Carolina’s own experiences and provided opportunities for faculty to discuss how to realize the promise of what it means to be a public university in 21st-century America. UNC’s research centers and institutes augmented course-based learning with events and allied research opportunities.

View of the Davie Poplar on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on July 12, 2018. (Johnny Andrews/UNC-Chapel Hill)Courses, Topics, Readings, Projects

  • The initiative incorporated two types of courses:
    • Foundational courses included those with a focus on race, U.S. racial politics, the history of truth and reconciliation processes, the South and civil rights and similar issues.
    • New Directions courses engaged the same topics from diverse perspectives across multiple fields, sharing relevant lessons from comparative cases.
  • Shared readings: Each course allocated three class sessions to common reading assignments so that all students participating in the initiative had meaningful intersections amid diverse academic terrain.
  • Gathering: Faculty and students participated in a Student Reckoning Forum in November that featured a speaker discussing one of the readings. The gathering provided an opportunity for students to connect with the wider learning community and to propose ways to extend the effort.


The initiative had three stated outcomes:

  • Practice difficult conversations: an ability to enter discussions about contentious topics in ways that lead to mutual understanding.
  • Gain a vocabulary for engaging this moment: a chance to study terms such as heritage, reparations, memory, story, racial justice, reckoning, truth and reconciliation, inclusion and other words that let us grapple with what this moment raises for us.
  • Connect diverse fields to current issues, learning how to provide new frames of understanding for contemporary concerns.

Fall 2019 Courses

For more information about each course, visit the Course Descriptions page.

Foundational Courses

Course Number Course Title Instructor
AAAD 491 Class, Race, and Inequality in America Kenneth R. Janken
AMST 210 Introduction to the American South: A Cultural Journey Seth Kotch
ANTH 370 Southern Legacies: The Descendants Project Glenn Hinson
ANTH 448 Health & Medicine in the American South Martha King
GEOG 225 Space, Place, and Difference Altha Cravey
HIST/AMST 110 Introduction to the Cultures and Histories of Native North America Malinda Maynor Lowery
HIST 395 Race & Memory at UNC William Sturkey
HNRS 353 Slavery and the University Jim Leloudis
SOCI 122 Race and Ethnic Relations Kathleen J. Fitzgerald

New Directions

Course Number Course Title Instructor
AMST 201 Literary Approaches to American Studies Annette M. Rodriguez
CLAS 051 Greek Drama from Page to Stage (FYS) Al Duncan
CMPL 460 Transnational Romanticism Janice Koelb
FOLK/ENGL 487 Everyday Stories: Personal Narrative and Legend Patricia E. Sawin
FREN 150 Globalization and the French-Speaking World Dorothea Heitsch
GLBL 383 Global Whiteness Mark Driscoll
HIST 279 Modern South Africa Lauren Jarvis
RELI/ASIA/ARAB 681 Arabic Sources on American Slavery Carl Ernst
SPAN 344 Latin@ American Cultural Topics Emil Keme