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Curriculum Foundations Project: Voices of the Partner Disciplines

Susan Ganter and William Barker, editors
Mathematical Association of America
Publication Date: 
Number of Pages: 
[Reviewed by
Fernando Q. Gouvèa
, on

If you still haven't heard of the Curriculum Foundations project, then you haven't been paying attention. Organized by Calculus Reform And the First Two Years (CRAFTY), a subcommittee of the MAA's Committee on the Undergraduate Mathematics Program, the project asked professors in other disciplines to tell us what mathematics they would like us to be teaching their students.

The project organized a series of workshops. The idea was that each workshop would be "a dialogue between representatives of the discipline under consideration, with mathematicians present merely to listen to the discussions and to provide information on current curriculum trends in mathematics." About 30 people were invited to each of these workshops, and each workshop produced a written report. These reports are collected in Curriculum Foundations Project: Voices of the Partner Disciplines. The disciplines covered are biology, business and management, chemistry, computer science, chemical engineering, civil engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, health-related biosciences, interdisciplinary core mathematics, mathematics, physics, statistics, teacher preparation, and four different kinds of technical mathematics (biological/environmental, electronics/communications, information technology, mechanical and manufacturing). An introduction by Susan Ganter and William Barker surveys the overall picture.

There is no question that this is an interesting resource that should be available to mathematics departments and pondered seriously when making curricular decisions. Common themes do emerge, including the repeated appeal for us to stress understanding rather than doing; they are ably summarized in the introductory chapter. But it is the quirks of particular disciplines that interest me more. This may not be the lightest reading material, but it should be read and pondered by anyone who teaches undergraduates.

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