1st Edition

Mathematics for Social Justice

Edited By Catherine A. Buell, Bonnie Shulman Copyright 2022
    228 Pages
    by Routledge

    228 Pages
    by Routledge

    Mathematics instructors are always looking for ways to engage students in meaningful and authentic tasks that utilize mathematics. At the same time, it is crucial for a democratic society to have a citizenry who can critically discriminate between “fake” and reliable news reports involving numeracy and apply numerical literacy to local and global issues.

    This book contains examples of topics linking math and social justice and addresses both goals. There is a broad range of mathematics used, including statistical methods, modeling, calculus, and basic algebra. The range of social issues is also diverse, including racial injustice, mass incarceration, income inequality, and environmental justice. There are lesson plans appropriate in many contexts: service-learning courses, quantitative literacy/reasoning courses, introductory courses, and classes for math majors. What makes this book unique and timely is that the most previous curricula linking math and social justice have been treated from a humanist perspective. This book is written by mathematicians, for mathematics students. Admittedly, it can be intimidating for instructors trained in quantitative methods to venture into the arena of social dilemmas. This volume provides encouragement, support, and a treasure trove of ideas to get you started.

    The chapters in this book were originally published as a special issue of the journal, PRIMUS: Problems, Resources, and Issues in Mathematics Undergraduate Studies.


    Catherine A. Buell and Bonnie Shulman

    1 Doing Social Justice: Turning Talk into Action in a Mathematics Service Learning Course

    Alana Unfried and Judith Canner

    2 Fighting Alternative Facts: Teaching Quantitative Reasoning with Social Issues

    Mark Branson

    3. Measuring Income Inequality in a General Education or Calculus Mathematics Classroom

    Barbara O’Donovan and Krisan Geary

    4. “There Are Different Ways You Can Be Good at Math”: Quantitative Literacy, Mathematical Modeling, and Reading the World

    K. Simic-Muller

    5. The Brokenness of Broken Windows: An Introductory Statistics Project on Race, Policing, and Criminal Justice

    Jared Warner

    6. Meaningful Mathematics: A Social-Justice-Themed-Introductory Statistics Course

    jenn berg, Catherine A. Buell, Danette Day, and Rhonda Evans

    7. Unnatural Disasters: Two Calculus Projects for Instructors Teaching Mathematics for Social Justice

    Gizem Karaali and Lily S. Khadjavi

    8. Supermarkets, Highways, and Natural Gas Production: Statistics and Social Justice

    John Ross and Therese Shelton

    9. Mass Incarceration and Eviction Applications in Calculus: A First-Timer Approach

    Kathy Hoke, Lauren Keough, and Joanna Wares

    10. Math for the Benefit of Society: A New Matlab-Based Gen-Ed Course

    Paul Isihara, Edwin Townsend, Richard Ndkezi, and Kevin Tully

    11. Using Graph Talks to Engage Undergraduates in Conversations Around Social Justice

    Alison S. Marzocchi, Kelly Turner, and Bridget K. Druken

    12. Critical Conversations on Social Justice in Undergraduate Mathematics

    Nathan N. Alexander, Zeynep Teymuroglu, and Carl R. Yerger



    Catherine A. Buell is Associate Professor of Mathematics. She spends her time teaching and learning from her students at Fitchburg State University, USA, and the local prison, as well as exploring the role mathematics plays in a just society. She also enjoys time with friends, the dogs, and family.

    Bonnie Shulman is Professor Emerita in the Mathematics department at Bates College, Lewiston, USA. She now lives on a farm in Greene, USA, working with home-schooled youth aged 6–12 in mathematics and science.