Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Come Speak At The Global Math Department, And This Year Let's Get More Diverse

Have you checked out the Global Math Department? You should.

The Global Math Department is fantastic. Every week (Tuesday) a different math teacher leads a short session about something they're fascinated by. Sometimes it's great math, other times it's a teaching tip, and often it's just a tough question, unanswered and maybe unanswerable but tossed around by a bunch of really sharp and curious teachers.

This year, I'm on the planning staff of the Global Math Department. My job is to recruit speakers for our Tuesday sessions, and this post is a Call For Speakers.

With over a year of conferences under our belt, it's becoming clear that we have a diversity problem, i.e. there's a lack of diversity in our speakers, i.e. the vast, vast majority of our speakers have been white. After reading a great piece about how one conference did a better job recruiting people of color (thanks Max!), we're ready to make a concerted effort toward drawing our session leaders from a wider palette.



[Spread Widely]

Call For Speakers: Global Math Department

We're looking for teachers, consultants, teacher-leaders, writers, and all sorts of people interested in math education to lead sessions at the Global Math Department. Right now most of 2014 is unbooked, and we're looking to find speakers for the new year.

Our Selection Process: This is the second full year of the Global Math Department. We have had sessions run by seasoned, big-name math education speakers, and we've also had sessions hosted by complete novices who have never ran sessions for teachers before. We don't accept every speaker, but when we don't accept proposals its not because of lack of experience. This is a friendly crowd, and if you're excited by something we'll probably want to offer you a session.

We Care About Diversity: Our process for recruiting speakers in the past mostly involved leaning on our friends or people that we knew from the online blogging world. In doing so, we accidentally ended up with primarily white speakers. This is a sort of self-propagating problem, because of the way our past speakers inevitably signal the sort of future speakers we're interested in.

This is trouble for all sorts of reasons. First, because there are people of color who haven't had the chance to have their voices amplified. Second, because our community itself has suffered from a lack of diversity of views and perspectives. Third, because our community has unintentionally mirrored the existing prejudices of the education establishment. This is at odds with our grass-roots effort to empower and connect teachers who are often silenced or ignored in their schools and departments.

With this new year, we're trying to break the cycle. It won't be easy, but we're going to reach beyond our comfort zone to find great speakers.

Nominations, Please!: Do you want to speak at the Global Math Department? Great! Do you have someone who you'd love to hear speak at the Global Math Department? Double-plus good. Let us know, and we'll do the sweet-talking for you and get your nominee into a speaker slot.

So, please nominate others, especially if they're outside of the math twitter/blogging crowd that we (the organizers) tend to run in.

Contact Us: Get in touch with us on twitter (@globalmathdept or @mpershan), or talk to Michael through email (mathmistakes-at-gmail works). You can also drop a comment to this post, and I'll make sure to follow-up.


  1. Dave Kung is a math prof at St Mary's College in Maryland (and was an awesome calc TA at Wisconsin back in the day) He does a lot with social justice & mathematics and underrepresented groups in mathematics. I don't think he's on Twitter yet, but there's contact info on his blog, davekung.com I think he would be an awesome presenter and someone great to get looped into the MTBoS in general

    1. Awesome. I'll try to get in touch with Dave.

  2. I would LOVE to have a Global Math session or two from some of the students, teachers, or old-heads at the Algebra Project (http://www.algebra.org/). Not only are they interesting on the subject of math as a civil right and Algebra as the gatekeeper to higher ed, but they have really rock-solid Algebra projects focused on both rural and urban African-American heritage and culture, the lessons from which can be applied (I think) to rural and urban students of all races (teaching negative numbers by riding the subway for urban kids needed a whole completely different context to invoke the same kinds of storytelling and representing in rural kids).