Master Class in Teaching Math Modeling for Life Sciences workshop poster.

Master Class in Teaching Math Modeling for Life Sciences


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July 9, 2023 - July 14, 2023
Where: Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
When: July 9 - July 14, 2023


There is a growing realization that traditional “Calculus for Life Sciences” courses do not show their applicability to the Life Sciences and discourage student interest. There have been calls from the AAAS, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the NSF, and the American Association of Medical Colleges for a new kind of math course for biology students, that would focus on dynamics and modeling, to understand positive and negative feedback relations, in the context of important biological applications, not incidental “examples.”

The workshop is designed for faculty members who are interested in launching a new mathematical modeling course that will serve as an alternative to introductory calculus by the end of the 2024 - 2025 academic year.

Introductory mathematics courses can equip students with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to solve the important problems our world faces. Despite this incredible potential to create transformative educational experiences, students often encounter introductory mathematics courses as a burdensome requirement. Educational research has shown that across age levels, content, and nations, that centering modeling in introductory mathematics courses supports students in their civic engagement and persistence in STEM. This summer we are offering a master class for faculty interested in offering a modeling focused course for life science students.

During the master class, you will:

• Become familiar with the content and pedagogical approach of UCLA’s successful course LS 30, by working through the syllabus of LS 30 with attention to the mathematical and scientific content and inclusive teaching techniques that will unlock success for the course you are designing.
• Learn how to bring modern computational tools into your classroom via Jupyter notebooks and Google Colab and think about the pedagogical challenges in teaching Python in the classroom.
• Be able to frame the underlying mathematical ideas in ways that are meaningful to students who have not completed a long list of prerequisite courses including calculus.
• Practice the above skill by planning, co-teaching, evaluating, and revising a lesson for high school students enrolled in a Mathematical Modeling course at Harvard’s Summer School.
• Frame the goals and benefits of a modeling-focused introductory mathematics class for different stakeholders to unlock change at your institution.
• Develop a syllabus for a new modeling course for life science students that leverages existing material, fits your institution's context, and empowers your students to approach modern scientific problems.

Space and funding are limited.

Application Form

To apply please follow the link above and fill out the form, where you will be asked to submit the following:

1. Your Curriculum Vitae.
2. A statement of purpose identifying the logic for a new course at the applicant’s institution and a timeline for course development.
3. A letter of support from a department chair or dean recognizing the need for change in the introductory calculus sequence.
4. Proof of COVID vaccination.

*Limited funding is available if your institution does not offer financial support or sponsorship.