Changing the Culture 2019


The annual Changing the Culture Conference, organized and sponsored by the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences, brings together mathematicians, mathematics educators and school teachers from all levels to work together towards narrowing the gap between mathematicians and teachers of mathematics, and between those who do and enjoy mathematics and those who think they don't. 

Changing the Culture

Date: Friday, May 17, 2019

Location: SFU-Vancouver at Harbour Centre, 515 W. Hastings Street, Vancouver, Canada


As in past years, registration for this event is free, but you will be asked to complete this RSVP form to allow us to plan the event. Please register by Tuesday May 14th.



Conference Program


8:00 Registration, (1301 Harbour Centre Concourse)

8:45 Opening Remarks, (Room 1900 - Fletcher Challenge Theatre)

9:00 Plenary Talk: Changing Culture for Indigenous Knowledges, Communities, and Mathematics Education Jo-ann Archibald Q’um Q’um Xiiem, UBC (Room 1900 - Fletcher Challenge Theater)

Jo-ann Archibald Q’um Q’um Xiiem will share her perspectives, experiences, and stories about ways to change school and university cultures so that Indigenous knowledges (IK), communities, and mathematics education may be brought together for quality education. She will also show how Indigenous Elders’ teachings and stories have guided culturally responsive and culturally-based pedagogical approaches with an emphasis on getting educators ready to work ethically in this regard. Exemplars will be highlighted where mathematical educational culture has been changed through community partnerships and centering Indigenous knowledges.

10:00 Coffee Break, (1301 Harbour Centre Concourse)

10:30 Workshops A and B

Workshop A Hidden prerequisites, revealead Fok-Shuen Leung, UBC (Room 1900)

In a recent essay in Vector (Fall 2018), we proposed two "hidden prerequisites" for success in first year university calculus: basic skills (technical competency) and metamathematical autonomy (an understanding that math is not just a collection of endorsed procedures).
In this workshop, we explore these in context by analyzing, as a group, a recent exam from a first year UBC calculus course. How do the prerequisites appear in the assessment? How well do students fulfill them? And what can we do to help students succeed?

Workshop B Don’t Change the Math, Change the Culture Melania Alvarez, PIMS, Nora Franzova, Langara, Sonoko Nakano, Langara, Petra Menz, SFU (Room 1315)

The presenters will share their experiences in working toward indigenizing high school level math curriculum - a part of the Indigenous Upgrading Program that is being developed at Langara College - and incorporating indigenous content and storytelling into the Mathematics for Elementary Teachers course (Math 190) at SFU. The presentation will be partly a discussion, partly sharing and partly hands on activities.

12:00 PIMS Award Ceremony (Room 1900 - Fletcher Challenge Theatre)

12:15 Lunch (Room 1400, Segal Centre) 

13:00 Plenary Talk: Mathematics and the Human Animal: Towards a Science of the Nature and Foundations of Mathematics in the 21st Century Rafael Nunez, University of California at San Diego (Room 1900 - Fletcher Challenge Theatre)

Mathematics is about abstract concepts, precise idealizations, relations, calculations, and notations, all of which are made possible by the amazing (albeit limited) workings of the human mind and the biological processes that support it. Over the past 50 years the scientific study of mental phenomena has made enormous progress in understanding their psychological, cultural, linguistic, neurological, and evolutionary underpinnings. Traditional approaches to the questions of the nature and the foundations of Mathematics, made primarily in Philosophy (e.g., Platonism, Formalism, Logicism, Intuitionism, etc.) — developed many decades, if not centuries prior to these scientific developments— could not benefit from these findings. I argue that today, in the 21st century, questions such as What is mathematics? What is it for? How does it work? How to teach it in a mind-friendly way? etc.— should be informed by, and be compatible with findings in the contemporary sciences of the mind. I’ll illustrate my arguments with research involving the number line, hyperset theory, and continuity in infinitesimal calculus.

14:15 Panel Discussion Should We Look at Teaching Math Around The World to Improve Teaching in Canada? (Room 1900 - Fletcher Challenge Theatre)

  • Melania Alvarez, PIMS
  • Jamie Mulholland, SFU
  • Natalia Kouzniak, SFU
  • Petra Menz, SFU
  • Minnie Liu, Templeton Secondary


15:45 Concluding Remarks