Period: 01.09.2020–31.08.2023

Funding: Erasmus+

Erasmus+ Project Results Platform:

The Erasmus+ funded CiviMatics project aims to combine the approaches of political and mathematical education within an interdisciplinary framework. It will develop didactic approaches for university teacher training courses using current social problems, such as climate change, as an example. The intention is to educate future teachers of mathematics and social sciences about the connections between mathematics and politics and to demonstrate the relevance of interdisciplinary approaches. Within this framework, the mathematical modeling cycle will be complemented by approaches from civic education in order to, among other things, establish an approach of normative modeling. Special emphasis will be placed on European cooperation in the development and testing of the materials in order to ensure that the project results can be applied in all countries of the European Union.

Modelling is understood here as the application of mathematics to reality and is one of the educational goals in schools and universities. At present, mathematical education ignores the social importance of assumptions and simplifications in modelling. Similarly, in political education the mathematical background of modelling is not adequately reflected, so that the significance of such assumptions and simplifications is not recognized, alternative modelling is not apparent and results often have to be understood as unquestionable facts. Without a reflection on the role and impact of certain assumptions, the results of the modelling then seem to be mathematically forced by the unambiguous calculation. Possible weightings and value judgements in the modelling remain hidden behind the reduction to the real model.

As a result, relevant points for discussion are lost and the societal scope for action can only be insufficiently democratically negotiated. CiviMatics will therefore develop both a didactic framework for how to deal with these complex and normative models in higher education and concrete scenarios and teaching/learning materials. Current topics from climate and environmental protection will be addressed, e.g. the modelling of CO2 emissions attributable to food. The focus will not be on carrying out mathematical calculations, but on the main assumptions and possible alternatives. By discussing these questions, it will become clear which results from models are generally valid and which results depend essentially on assumptions or points of view. This allows a more qualitative and critical discussion of the social significance of the results. In essence, the awareness of the possibilities and limitations of statements obtained with the help of mathematical models should be sharpened in the context of democratic decision-making.

Staff involved from the University of Vienna
  • Lead: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Dirk Lange
  • Scientific staff: Alessandra Santoianni MSc
  • Student assistant: Clara Berger BA
Implementing organisations