Workshop on Integrating Social Justice into Mathematics Classes

Date and Time: Saturday April 10 at 10:00am EST
Speaker: Victor Piercey (Ferris State University)

Abstract: In the last several years, mathematicians have been thinking about how their work impacts the world around them. In the classroom, social justice connections raise student awareness of the role mathematics plays in complicated social issues and empowers them to identify and help solve social problems. There have been several publications about teaching mathematics for social justice (such as the PRIMUS special issue on Mathematics for Social Justice, a themed collection in the journal Numeracy - part 1 and part 2, and the AMS book Mathematics for Social Justice: Resources for the College Classroom edited by Karaali and Khadjavi with a second volume due Summer 2021), books about the social harms caused by algorithms (such as Cathy O'Neil's Weapons of Math Destruction), and working groups dedicated to ethics in mathematics (such as the Cambridge Ethics in Mathematics Society as well as the Ethical Mathematics Project Catherine Buell and I are getting off the ground).

In this workshop, we will work on integrating social justice activities into mathematics classes. The goal will be to connect problems from standard undergraduate mathematics courses with social justice issues. We will also dedicate some time to handling controversial and complex social issues in a mathematics classroom. During the workshop, participants will outline an activity that they can use in their classes and share with others for feedback.

Speaker bio: Victor Piercey received a Juris Doctor from Columbia Law School in 2000 and Ph.D in mathematics from the University of Arizona in 2012. Since completing his Ph.D, he has been teaching at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan. His scholarship interests include the intersection of quantitative reasoning with algebraic reasoning, the use of faculty learning communities to increase the scale of innovation, and both the cognitive and affective impact of active pedagogies. His teaching interests include the integration of social justice and ethics with mathematics, the use of inquiry-based learning, interdisciplinary collaboration in course design and in teaching, and the use of role-playing simulations similar to Reacting to the Past. He has served as the chair of two Special Interest Groups in the Mathematical Association of America, one dedicated to Quantitative Literacy and the other dedicated to Inquiry-Based Learning (which he helped establish). He has also chaired the Michigan section of the Mathematical Association of America and serves on the board for the initiative for Mathematics Learning by Inquiry.