Wellesley's Corri Taylor Teaches Mathematics Faculty to Create Classroom Activities Using Campus Sustainability Data

July 24, 2013

Corri Taylor, senior lecturer and director of the Wellesley College Quantitative Reasoning (QR) Program, has taken her focus on the relationship between QR and environmental sustainability on tour.

Last month, Taylor travelled to Valparaiso, Chile, as part of a certificate program with engineering faculty at Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María. Her two-day workshop focused on QR, sustainability, and assessment. Participating in the workshops were faculty from engineering programs keen on applying best practices in QR to various engineering lessons and projects, including ones dealing with energy consumption and resource recovery. 

For several years, Taylor has worked with LASPAU at Harvard, helping faculty in Chile and other parts of Latin America and the Caribbean integrate a QR approach in their teaching. This most recent QR workshop was one of eight modules in a pilot certificate program for effective teaching and learning in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.

This week, Taylor is at Shippenburg University in Pennsylvania leading a weeklong faculty workshop about sustainability on college campuses. The Mathematics Association of America’s PREP (Professional Enhancement Program) workshop is designed to help mathematics faculty create classroom activities using sustainability data from their college campus: from dining facilities’ decisions about food and waste to decisions about paper usage for printing and photocopying, encompassing college-wide and personal decisions about energy usage, transportation, and more.

In October, Taylor heads to California to lead a workshop preceding the joint meeting of the National Numeracy Network and Project Kaleidoscope (of the Association of American Colleges & Universities). Along with colleagues Eric Gaze of Bowdoin College and Caren Diefenderfer of Hollins University, Taylor will lead a pre-conference workshop on QR and sustainability. Participants will work together in teams to develop activities, projects, and modules that use mathematics and real-world data to investigate and model sustainability topics, including the health of our global commons; the creation and usage of energy; population growth and biodiversity; social justice; and climate change. These and other data-driven topics are designed to engage students actively in the classroom and motivate students to pursue STEM fields of study more deeply.

Her travels are likely to continue—Taylor and her colleague Ben Galluzzo, mathematics professor at Shippensburg, were recently awarded a National Science Foundation Grant for Transforming Undergraduate Education in STEM (NSF TUES) to allow them to run more “USE Math” (Undergraduate Sustainability Experiences in Mathematics) workshops in the future.