Abstract / Synopsis

Mathematics can be used as a tool to question and critique society and, in doing so, give us more information about the world around us and how it operates. This however, is not a common perspective that is conveyed to students during their undergraduate mathematics coursework. This paper contributes to the understanding of how undergraduate mathematics students question and critique society via mathematical modeling tasks. In two courses at two universities, 27 mathematics majors and secondary preservice teachers engaged in the modeling process situated in authentic contexts to learn specific concepts and make mathematical connections across domains and disciplines. Both courses culminated in a final project in which students created and investigated solutions to their own modeling tasks. In this paper, we describe how our courses (1) centered justice as pedagogy, (2) were environments for student agency and exploration, and (3) explicitly demonstrated how mathematics and social justice are intertwined. Drawing on frameworks of mathematical modeling for social justice, we present and analyze student-created tasks to showcase how they utilized mathematics as a tool to question and critique the world around them.



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