On Tuesday April 9, a Special Mathematics Colloquium was held in the Smith Learning Theater. The event was hosted by Vice Provost of Digital Innovation and CMLTD Professor Lalitha Vasudevan, and Dean of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education Erica Walker. Prior to her Deanship, Dr. Walker was the previous MST Department Chair, the Clifton Brewster Upton Professor of Mathematical Education, and the Director of the Edmund W. Gordon Institute for Advanced Study. 

This special colloquium and screening featured short videos from an National Science Foundation-funded project headed by Professors Walker and Vasudevan, and their co-PI Professor Robin Wilson. The project is titled “Expanding Mathematical Futures Through Multimedia Storytelling.” In the project's first phase, the Storytelling team, comprised of both faculty and graduate students, developed several short 2-3 minute videos from longer interviews of 31 Black mathematicians about their formative mathematics learning experiences. These interviews were to be included in a national K-8 curriculum as a means of Season 2, Episode 6 of the Media and Social Change Lab (MASCLab) Podcast features clips from some of these interviews from and highlights an early iteration of this project. 

This new phase of the project seeks to explore the impact of broader dissemination, aiming to broaden the mathematical imagination and aspirations of Black and other underserved student populations. The team has planned a round of screenings with cross-sections of community partners, followed finally by a focus on community engagement by widely disseminating across multiple social institutions and media platforms including but not limited to the National Urban League, the NAACP, the Mathematicians of the African Diaspora website, Mathematically Gifted and Black website, as well as schools, museums, libraries, and other existing STEM and math initiatives.

This Special Mathematics began with a brief overview of the project and an overview of its early findings. Afterward, Professors Vasudevan and Walker shared several videos and elicited audience feedback about them. They also spent time thinking with the audience about the potential uses of the videos both inside and outside of the classroom. By the event's conclusion, attendees gained deeper insights into storytelling's role in fostering culturally responsive and inclusive instructional practices, leaving inspired to integrate storytelling and media-making into their educational contexts.

“Expanding Mathematical Futures Through Multimedia Storytelling” speaks directly to Professor Walker’s research, which focuses on social and cultural factors, as well as educational policies and practices, that facilitate mathematics engagement, learning, and performance, especially for underserved students. It is also an enactment of multimodal research and pedagogy, which Professor Vasudevan is dedicated to fostering at TC and beyond. It is an innovative approach to public scholarship which seeks to expand the public's views of mathematics and its practitioners. We look forward to seeing this project continue to develop and grow!