Math and Social Justice

Here are some resources from a course development workshop on “The Mathematics of Social Justice” held at Lafayette College in May 2006.


To give a sense of what is possible, here is a very incomplete listing of resources that might be useful to participants. Please excuse the uneven nature of the resources currently listed; email your suggestions to rectify the situation.


Here are some books that are available and might make useful reading. The links take you to Amazon’s main page for each book.

Web Resources

Joe Malkevitch at York College, CUNY, has written and taught extensively about the mathematics of fairness. Here are some feature columns he wrote for the AMS from 2002 to 2005

Larry Lesser (a speaker at the workshop) and Erik Nordenhaug have an article in the Journal of Statistics Education about ethics and statistics.

Larry Lesser also has a new article in the Journal of Statistics Education that includes extensive resources for teaching statistics using issues of social justice.

Jonathan Osler, a high school math teacher and workshop participant, has an entire web site of resources at RadicalMath.

Walter Whiteley of York University in Toronto passed on a link to a bibliography maintained by Arthur Powell and Sandy Dawson to resulted from a Working Group on Mathematics Education, Society, and Peace held in May 2005. This includes an article by Eric Gutstein, co-author of Rethinking Mathematics, cited above.

Bob Moses’ Algebra Project has a web site.

Gutstein and Peterson’s book has a web site, too. Gutstein has also published one of his lessons online.

For a stilted review of Rethinking Mathematics, see this column by Diane Ravitch. The column apparently was published in the Wall Street Journal, 20 June 2005.

An overview of voting methods with advocacy for the ranked pairs technique is provided at

For a concise presentation on fair division, see Steve Brams’ handbook entry on the topic.

There is a cornucopia of statistically-oriented resources dealing with quantitative literacy at StatLit. There are further resources on this general topic at CAUSEweb, and a report on the topic available from the American Statistical Association.

The Swedish organization says on their home page that their vision is “Making sense of the world by having fun with statistics!” The 2005 presentation on human development trends seems to fit that vision admirably. This is an excellent presentation that was given only slightly modified at the 2006 TED conference. The TED version includes some helpful suggestions for classroom activities to accompany the presenations, as well as a very helpful audio narrative. This is a great tool for understanding international development.

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