Mathematics and Social Advocacy on the Web

Sandra Kingan, Brooklyn College, CUNY
Sandra Kingan’s specialty is Combinatorics. She developed a course called “Mathematical Methods for Analyzing Data” It is a “rigorous presentation of topics from linear algebra, discrete mathematics, statistics, and operations research for analyzing data. Topics will be taught in the context of modern real-world problems.”

Jeff Suzuki, Brooklyn College, CUNY
Jeff Suzuki’s specialty is History of Mathematics.  His activities and ideas are outlined on his website. He has developed a course called “Mathematics and the law.” “Mathematical, statistical, and probabilistic arguments have become an increasingly important part of the legal process. We will examine the underlying mathematical principles of some of these arguments, and use various documents, including court records and legislative acts, to see how these principles have been incorporated into the legal system.”

Petronela Radu and Stephen Hartke, University of Nebraska – Lincoln
Petronela Radu’s specialty is Partial Differential Equations and Stephen Hartke’s specialty is Discrete Mathematics. They developed a course called “Math in the City,”
“Math in the City” is an interdisciplinary course in which students engage in a hands-on learning experience using mathematical modeling to understand current major societal issues of local and national interest. The course is run in collaboration with local businesses, research centers and government organizations that provide data and act as consultants throughout the course thus creating strong connections between academia and industry, while engaging students in a learning and discovery process.”

RadicalMath is an organization of K-12 teachers that work “to integrate issues of economic and social justice into (their) math classes.” They encourage students to ask the question: “What are the problems that my community is facing, and how can I use math to understand and help solve them?” The RadicalMath website has links to over 700 articles, charts, graphs, datasets etc.

Frameworks Institute: Changing the public conversation on social problems 
Doing Social Math: Case Study in Framing Food and Fitness by Diane Benjamin
“This FrameWorks E-Zine was supported by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation to inform the work of food and fitness advocates. Some years ago, the Advocacy Institute and Berkeley Media Studies Group pioneered an approach to communicating statistics that they call “social math.” By this, they mean making large numbers comprehensible and compelling by placing them in a social context that provides meaning. Like other frame elements, social math can be used to reinforce the reframes you wish to introduce by painting vivid pictures in people’s minds. When it is combined with other frame elements, social math is a tool that can help guide people to think about the social and built environments surrounding the behavioral choices that individuals make.”

 CBMS 2012: Mathematics of the Social and Behavioral Sciences
Lecturer: Donald G. Saari
“Emerging areas of mathematical interest are coming from the social and behavioral sciences. What makes these concerns, which are motivated by issues in economics, sociology, political science, and psychology, of particular mathematical interest is that many standard mathematical tools were developed in response to questions from the physical and engineering sciences, which means that often they are not appropriate to analyze concerns from the social and behavioral sciences. The precision of differential equations, for instance, can lead to misleading conclusions for the qualitative types of issues that arise in the social sciences; many questions about aggregation rules, such as voting rules and price models in economics, have not been answered. In other words, to make advances in the mathematical social and behavioral sciences, there is a need to develop different forms of mathematical approaches. The theme of this series is to introduce and describe a portion of them.”