First Year Seminar - Mathematics for Social Justice and Citizenship - Fall 2013
"I know how strange it can sound to say that math literacy. . .is the key to the future of disenfranchised communities, but that's what I think, and believe with all my heart."
- Bob Moses
We will begin the semester by exploring the idea of quantitative literacy as an issue of social justice: Those without adequate quantitative skills have limited options in the U.S. economy and are disadvantaged in understanding the social and political landscape in which we live.
We will also apply mathematical tools to explore policy questions that have broad societal implications and to examine issues that have a more immediate local impact. For example, what decision procedures and voting systems are most fair in national political elections or in Wheaton student elections? How do we assess the allocation of shared limited goods, such as natural resources on public lands or spots in popular courses at Wheaton? What is the monetary difference between taking federally-subsidized vs private student loans? What insights can this give us about the national debt and deficit?
Through the semester, we'll work to understand math literacy as an issue of social justice and understand how mathematics can be used as a tool for social change.
Another important aspect of the FYS is to help you take full advantage of all that Wheaton offers during your four years here. Several of the assignments will have you meeting with Career Services in the Filene Center, interviewing an upper-class student about their Wheaton experiences, and attending public lectures and other events on campus. Your interests and goals will certainly evolve, and perhaps change dramatically, while you are at Wheaton. The purpose of these assignments is to help you be very intentional about the path you take so that you do not inadvertently close off options that you may want to pursue later.
The details on readings and assignments are available to enrolled students at Wheaton onCourse.