Smolny Beyond Borders

Smolny Beyond Borders

Introduction to Liberal Arts Mathematics


Introduction to Liberal Arts Mathematics_Rodin_course


Course Schedule:

Fall 2023 | Tue Thurs 5:50 – 7:10 PM Berlin (UTC + 2)


Professor: Andrei Rodin
Semester: Fall 2023
Subject: MATH
Course Level: 100
Number of Bard Credits: 4
Course Title: Introduction to Liberal Arts Mathematics
Max Enrollment: 22
Schedule: Tue Thurs 5:50 – 7:10 PM Berlin (UTC + 2)
Distribution Area: Mathematics and Computing (for non-science majors)
Cross-Listing(s): no
Language of Instruction: English

In the Medieval European universities the Seven Liberal Arts were classified into two unequal departments: the first one, called \emph{trivium} comprised Grammar, Dialectics, and Rhetorics, and the second one, called \emph{quadrivium}, which was supposed to mark an upper level of study, comprised four mathematical disciplines: arithmetic, geometry, harmonics (i.e., theory of music) and (mathematically-laden) astronomy. Even if this Medieval disciplinary structure is outdated and mostly irrelevant to today’s Liberal Education, the very notion of mathematics as a liberal art remains alive and inspiring. During the last decades the were multiple attempts to develop mathematical courses specifically for Liberal Arts programs, which combined a general practical orientation with a focus on free creative mathematical theorising. The present course realises these goals in the context of today’s rapidly changing technological and informational environment. The course covers issues related to the logical architecture and conceptual foundations of modern mathematics including basic elements of Combinatorics, Geometry, Calculus, Set theory, Group theory, and Topology. In addition to the mathematical contents the course includes discussions on the role and place of mathematics in the past and today’s societies, which are supported by real-life examples demonstrating the power and the reach of mathematical reasoning far beyond its proper domain. In this course mathematics is treated as a human endeavour, an experimental site for human thought, which has a large impact on all spheres of the contemporary life.