Keynote Speaker

Porträt Vince Geiger
Vince Geiger - Australian Catholic University (ACU)

Vince Geiger is a Professor at the Institute for Learning Sciences & Teacher Education at the Australian Catholic University (ACU) in Brisbane, Australia. He is an internationally recognized researcher in mathematics education, especially in the context of numeracy as well as mathematical modelling and technology.


The essential role of mathematical modelling and applications in the time of disruptive events

We live in a time of disruptive events. While we are all aware the current COVID-19 pandemic is a health challenge of global proportion, there are other challenges being faced by societies around the world that might be considered equally disruptive events. For some time, there has been discussion about the impact of digital disruption, but now there is also a developing realisation that other types of disruption require increasingly urgent attention, including challenges associated with: health, the environment; personal financial security, national economies and globalisation; international security; and a myriad of issues related to social justice and the fabric of societies. The ongoing nature of these disruptive events, with potentially devastating consequences, means that societies, more than ever before, require informed citizenries with the capability to form judgements and make decisions that lead to responsible action.

The need for such capability is accompanied by unprecedented access to data and information related to the phenomena associated with disruptive events, through both the mass and social media.  In addition to the popular press, accessible data and information is available from sources such as national producers of official statistics (e.g., Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC, USA]), international agencies (e.g., World Health Organization [WHO]), statistics integrators, such as those as centers within academic institutions (e.g., Coronavirus Resource Center at John Hopkins University) and commercial organizations (e.g., Worldometer).

The availability of such data and information, in the time of disruptive events, means traditional capabilities associated with mathematical modelling and application must be complemented by new capacities if citizens are to be informed and empowered to act as responsible citizens. These new capacities include critical capabilities such as the ability to evaluate the strength of evidence or to ask clarifying questions of experts. The current situation also has implications for the pedagogical architecture necessary to promote student learning. This includes issues that require reflection on the social consequences of actions that are employed to mitigate the impact of disruptive events.

In this presentation I will outline and discuss an agenda for future research in mathematical modelling and applications within the global context I have just outlined. This agenda includes: (1) attention to the new capacities that must now be addressed in teaching and learning that go beyond the sub-competencies associated with the modelling cycle; and (2) the role of social theories of learning in informing pedagogical approaches that must accommodate diverse perspectives on how to respond to the consequences of disruptive events.