How precarious is the existence of the Monarch butterfly? Does personal diet affect the environment? What are the consequences of increased human life expectancy?
Last month I spent three days with nearly two dozen mathematics colleagues and sustainability experts at the MAA Carriage House. We organized, refined, and developed sustainability-focused modules for use in the introductory undergraduate math classroom. This workshop is part of the mathematics community’s contribution to the American Association of Colleges and University’s broader “Sustainability Improves Student Learning (SISL) in STEM” initiative, which has brought together numerous professional societies to better prepare undergraduate students for the 21st-century “Big Questions” that relate to real-world challenges such as energy, air and water quality, and climate change.
Not surprisingly, these “Big Questions” are frequently investigated through mathematics; however this workshop was focused on identifying ways to make these topics appropriate and accessible to students taking their first college math course. Currently 20 sustainability activities have been released for general use on the Science Education Resource Center website (SERC) at Carleton College.
I believe this is just the beginning; as the SISL page on the SERC site is designed to be a resource for all interested in sustainability themed mathematics curriculum.
I invite you to view, use and submit activities on this site.