April 13, 2023 5:00 pm
The Department of Mathematics
Project for Leadership and Character
2023 Gentry Lecturer
Francis Edward Su
Benediktsson-Karwa Professor of Mathematics
Harvey Mudd College
Mathematics for Human Flourishing
Thursday, April 13, 2023 at 5:00pm
Annenberg Forum, 111 Carswell Hall
Talk Abstract: Math is more than just a way to describe the world, and it is more than just a set of skills, like doing arithmetic or factoring a quadratic. Math is a deeply human enterprise that fulfills basic human longings, such as for beauty and exploration and truth, and when properly engaged, it builds virtues like persistence, creativity, and a competence to solve problems you’ve never seen before. Reframing math in this way–around virtues—offers a way for people to see math as an intrinsic part of life. An incarcerated man–now my friend-has helped me see this more clearly than ever before.
Bio: Francis Edward Su is the Benediktsson-Karwa Professor of Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College and a former president of the Mathematical Association of America. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University. His research is in geometric combinatorics and applications to the social sciences and he has co-authored numerous papers with undergraduates. He also has a passion for teaching and popularizing mathematics. From the Mathematical Association of America, he received the 2013 Haimo Award for distinguished teaching and the 2018 Halmos-Ford Award for his writing. His work has been featured in Quanta Magazine, Wired, and The New York Times. His book Mathematics for Human Flourishing (Yale University Press, 2020) won the 2021 Euler Book Prize. It is an inclusive vision of what math is, who it’s for, and why anyone should learn it.