A conversation on professional norms in mathematics
September 20-22, 2019
Sponsored by the National Science Foundation DMS-1652600 and
the Department of Mathematics at Johns Hopkins University.
|Friday, September 20||Saturday, September 21||Sunday, September 22|
|4-4:40||registration||Hodson 301||9-9:40||Su||Hodson 301||9-9:40||Manes||Hodson 301|
|4:40-5:20||Cheng||Hodson 301||9:40-10:20||Winger||Hodson 301||9:40-10:20||Hirschfeldt||Hodson 301|
|5:20-6||Kung||Hodson 301||10:20-10:40||coffee||Hodson 3rd floor lobby||10:20-10:40||coffee||Hodson 3rd floor lobby|
|6-??||reception||Krieger 413||10:40-11:20||Harris||Hodson 301||10:40-11:20||Hill||Hodson 301|
|11:20-12||Diaz-Lopez||Hodson 301||11:20-12||Salerno||Hodson 301|
|12-1:40||lunch||Krieger 413||12-12:30||closing discussion||Hodson 301|
|3-3:20||coffee||Hodson 3rd floor lobby|
|7-??||off-site dinner||22 W Chase St|
Hodson and Krieger halls can be found on the Johns Hopkins campus map. We are located on the main Homewood campus.
- Eugenia Cheng — Inclusion-exclusion in mathematics and beyond:
who stays in, who falls out, why it happens, and what we could do about
- The question of why women and minorities are under-represented in mathematics is complex and there are no simple answers, only many contributing factors. I will focus on character traits, and argue that if we focus on this rather than gender we can have a more productive and less divisive conversation. To try and focus on characters rather than genders I will introduce gender-neutral character adjectives "ingressive" and "congressive" as a new dimension to shift our focus away from masculine and feminine. I will share my experience of teaching congressive abstract mathematics to art students, in a congressive way, and the possible effects this could have for everyone in mathematics, not just women. Moreover I will show that abstract mathematics is applicable to working towards a more inclusive, congressive society in this politically divisive era. This goes against the assumption that abstract math can only be taught to high level undergraduates and graduate students, and the accusation that it is removed from real life.
- Alexander Diaz-Lopez — Becoming a better version of ourselves
- Math Anxiety is prevalent in our society with approximately 50% of the US population suffering from it. While there are undoubtedly many contributing factors, those of us that are math educators hold our fair share of the load. For instance, still today, the most prevalent form of teaching mathematics is by lecturing even though it is evident from the research that active learning methods are more effective than lectures. I will discuss some of the limiting beliefs that prevent us from becoming a better version of ourselves (teaching-wise).
- Pamela E. Harris — Avoiding the academic savior complex: How to mentor underrepresented faculty
- Even with the best intentions, faculty from dominant groups can fall prey to the academic savior complex, where they aim to "save" underrepresented faculty from professional failure. Such faculty members may believe that people are incapable of determining what is important in their academic careers, try to convince others what to think or do, offer advice and direction without being asked, and seek to feel needed in order to have a positive relationship with others. This behavior is often masked as mentoring and creates very toxic environments for underrepresented faculty. In this talk, I share experiences working with faculty from dominant groups who suffer from the academic savior complex and I contrast these experiences with those in which actual mentorship empowered me, as a woman of color in the mathematical sciences.
- Denis Hirschfeldt — Mathematicians, Collective
Bargaining, and the Corporatized Academy
- I will discuss academic unionization from an activist perspective that sees it as an instrument of democratization and resistance, and a way to build solidarity within and across institutions. I will reflect on my experiences as an officer of an advocacy chapter of the AAUP and a member of the recently-formed University of Chicago Labor Council. I will also use the framework of responses to academic corporatization as a way to think about how this issue relates to the position of mathematicians in the academy.
- Mike Hill — Queer spheres
- Dagan Karp — An Introduction to Critical Theory in Postsecondary Mathematics Education
- Critical Theory is a vast body of knowledge developed to analyze the structure and function of institutions. Incorporating ideas from such subjects as intersectional feminism, queer theory, disability justice, postcolonial studies, and poststructuralism, critical theory may be used to examine mathematics education at the postsecondary level. A goal of this talk is to broadcast the work of Rochelle Gutierrez, Nicole Joseph, Danny Martin, Luis Leyva and others, and examine the implications of their work for technical, upper division and graduate mathematics programs. We may pay special attention to Critical Education Theory, beginning with the work of Paolo Freire and bell hooks.
- Oliver Knill — On parameters for communicating mathematical ideas
- Mathematical ideas can be communicated in many different ways. There are a couple of parameters one can tune when telling a story. A difficult variable to gauge is abstraction. Especially in service courses, it is important to be able to adapt language, notation and the abstraction level to an ever changing and increasingly diverse student body. Having folks in the faculty who have the time, the sensitivity and the training to deal with these difficulties is more and more appreciated. Identifying and being aware of key parameters is relevant in all of teaching, but it is especially important in the field of pure mathematics. I will illustrate in examples how subtle this can be, and share from my own experiences as a mathematics faculty who specializes more in teaching and support rather than research. I also want to share some personal comments on the role of non-ladder faculty in modern college set-ups.
- David Kung — From Teaching Math to Teaching Students: Transforming classroom norms among college math instructors
- We know very contradictory things about college-level mathematics teaching in the US. Interactive teaching methods increase student understanding, promote success, and improve inclusion, in comparison to traditional passive lectures which have a 55% higher drop/fail rate. At the same time, instructors in over half of the observed classrooms, spent over 80% of the time lecturing, and historical trends with low success rates for women and under-represented people of color continue. What forces keep us from providing high-quality learning opportunities to all students? What can we do to overcome those challenges and work together to move the community forward? Experiences and reflections from MAA Project NExT and elsewhere will inform this interactive session.
- Izabella Laba — Rethinking universities in the era of climate change
- Climate change will affect all aspects of our lives. So far, universities have been largely responding with "sustainability" projects that amount to a bonanza for developers and, often, deteriorating working conditions for the rest of us. I do not believe that this is the right approach or the right direction to take. Instead of allowing investors to dictate what gets built on campus, we should look for guidance to those who know how to live with uncertainty and scarcity. Instead of treating material goods as the university's most important assets, we need to focus on the core mission of seeking, preserving, and disseminating knowledge. Instead of assuming that people must either adjust to whatever working conditions are thrown their way or else be replaced, we need to acknowledge and respect normal human limitations. I'd like to offer some thoughts on what this might mean to us as academics and as mathematicians.
- Luis A. Leyva —Racialized and Gendered Mechanisms of Pre-calculus and Calculus Instruction: A Window into Cultural and Professional Norms in Mathematics
- Research has documented racialized and gendered experiences in undergraduate mathematics classrooms among members of historically underrepresented groups in STEM. However, there is a void of research that focuses specifically on pre-calculus and calculus with inquiry about how daily events in instruction contribute to these racialized and gendered experiences. This presentation draws on findings from a study that centers the perspectives of eight Black students, eight Latinx students, and four white women about how they perceive instruction in undergraduate pre-calculus and calculus operating in discouraging and marginalizing ways. Our analysis revealed how historically underrepresented students identified race- and gender-specific stereotypes and representation as shaping three marginalizing mechanisms of instruction. This presentation highlights how these mechanisms offer a window into the exclusionary influences of cultural and professional norms in mathematics that impact historically underrepresented students’ experiences of undergraduate pre-calculus and calculus instruction.
- Michelle Manes — Be the change you want to see in mathematics
- The institutions at the center of the professional lives of most mathematicians -- colleges and universities, government agencies, private corporations, and funders -- are fundamentally conservative organizations whose primary (only?) priority is preserving their own existence. Diversity and inclusion are valued by these institutions only inasmuch as they don't interfere with this fundamental goal. Moreover, this fundamental goal makes the institutions more concerned with the privacy and protection of accused bad actors in the profession rather than with the careers and safety of researchers from marginalized communities, especially students and postdocs. This is evident in, for example, when one carefully examines official policies concerning sexual harassment and codes of conduct at professional meetings. The good news is that we as a community have the power to make fundamental changes in what and who is valued, even without fundamental changes in the institutions themselves. My comments are informed by experiences as a Program Officer at the National Science Foundation, but any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed are my own and do not reflect the views of the NSF.
- Adriana Salerno — The mathematician as public intellectual
- We commonly think of mathematicians primarily as researchers and teachers. This is natural, as these have historically been the aspects of our job that are most prominent. However, previously reclusive mathematicians are starting to develop public personae with recent widespread use of social media (tweets, blogs, facebook posts, op-eds, etc.) and gaining both notoriety and admiration. In this talk, I will highlight some of the social benefits of making public the scholarship of mathematicians, the boundaries that some have pushed, the conversations that have been sparked by controversy, my own journey into a life as public mathematician, and some of the backlash that some people have had to endure. In particular, we will explore the question: What are the rights and responsibilities of mathematicians as public intellectuals?
- Francis Su — The College/University Divide: How Do We Fix It?
- There is a large divide between the mathematics culture at four-year colleges and universities, and its amplified by a certain asymmetry. To be a four-year college or university professor, we must first get PhD at a research university. So college professors understand university culture, but university professors don't always understand colleges. Each group, in some ways, looks down on the other (but there is an asymmetry there too). How do we help each group understand, collaborate, and learn from each other?
- Aris Winger — Acknowledgement of the Impact Race has in our Practice
- Our cultural practices as mathematicians shape the present and future of mathematics as a discipline. How we interact with each other professionally and socially, how we support each other through challenges, how we settle disputes and how we build community are at the heart of the trajectory of the subject itself. How does Race play a role in this? In this talk, we discuss some methods and exercises used in our work in Equity in Mathematics contexts to discuss acknowledging our own racial identity as meaningful, and realizing how that identity comes into play in our cultural practices. We conclude by asking and attempting to answer the following question: If we (continue to) choose not consider race in our cultural practices in mathematics, how will the future of the disciplines look and feel?
Travel:Baltimore is easily accessible both by air and by train.
The closest airport to Baltimore is BWI, which is 11 miles south of Baltimore's Inner Harbor, and approximately a 30 minute drive away from campus.
Amtrak trains, commuter trains, and intercity buses arrive at (Baltimore's own) Penn Station, which is 1.5 miles south of campus. There are two free shuttles that run from Penn Station to and from the Homewood campus, both of which can be caught on Charles Street, just to the west of the station: one is operated by JHU and the other is the purple line of the Charm City Circulator.
Lodging:Hotel reservations have been made at the Inn at The Colonnade Baltimore, which is across the street from Johns Hopkins on the north side of the Homewood campus.
There are a few nearby dining options just off University Parkway. More casual options can be found on St Paul street, south of 33rd (10 minute walk). Even more options can be found in Hampden, particularly along “the avenue”, aka 36th street (20 minute walk).