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The ICMI Emma Castelnuovo Award

for Excellence in the Practice of Mathematics Education


The International Commission on Mathematical Instruction (ICMI) is committed to the “development of mathematical education at all levels” and its aims are “to promote the reflection, collaboration, exchange and dissemination of ideas on the teaching and learning of mathematics, from primary to university level. The work of ICMI stimulates the growth, synthesis, and dissemination of new knowledge (research) and of resources for instruction (curricular materials, pedagogical methods, uses of technology, etc.)”.

ICMI has decided in the past to create two awards to recognize outstanding achievements in mathematics education research: the Felix Klein Award, honouring a lifetime achievement, and the Hans Freudenthal Award, recognizing a major cumulative program of research.

In order to reflect a main aspect of ICMI (as stated above), not yet recognized in the form of an award, ICMI has decided to create a third award to recognize outstanding achievements in the practice of mathematics education. This award will be named after Emma Castelnuovo, an Italian mathematics educator born in 1913 to celebrate her 100th birthday and honour her pioneering work.

The Emma Castelnuovo award for outstanding achievements in the practice of mathematics education will honour persons, groups, projects, institutions or organizations engaged in the development and implementation of exceptional and influential work in the practice of mathematics education, including: classroom teaching, curriculum development, instructional design (of materials or pedagogical models), teacher preparation programs and/or field projects with a shown influence on schools, districts, regions or countries. The Emma Castelnuovo award seeks to recognize and to encourage efforts and ideas and their successful implementation in the field, as well as to showcase models and exemplars of inspirational practices to learn from. A possible list of criteria for selecting among candidates would include:


  • their educational rationale
  • the problems addressed
  • the conditions under which the work is taking place (cultural/political context, infrastructure, funding, people involved)
  • the originality/creativity involved to address problems and bypass obstacles
  • the extent of the influence of the work the quantitative and/or qualitative evidence of its influence the potential to serve as a role model (either for inspiring others addressing similar problems or because of having an approach which can be applied elsewhere with appropriate modifications)

As with the existing awards, this award will consist of a medal and a certificate accompanied by a citation and will be awarded only once every four years (and not once every two years as it is the case with the other two awards). The award will be officially delivered at the International Congress on Mathematical Education (ICME) during the opening ceremony alongside the Klein and Freudenthal awards. The awardee (or its representative in the case of an institution, project or organization) will be invited to present a special lecture at the Congress.

It is proposed to create a special Castelnuovo Award Committee, separate from the existing ICMI Awards Committee established for the two other awards and consisting of six members (five members and a chair). It is proposed that these members will be appointed by the President of ICMI, in confidential consultation with the ICMI Secretary General and the whole Executive Committee, and with other scholars in the field. The Castelnuovo Award Committee members should have recognized experience in the practice of mathematics education and/or a worldwide perspective on it. The members of the Castelnuovo Award Committee should be from five different countries and should represent at least three continents. At least two of the members should be from a developing or less affluent country. The Committee should also be balanced in terms of gender and age.

The Castelnuovo Award Committee would function in a similar way as the existing ICMI Awards Committee, but fully independent from it: the names of the active members, except for its chair, will be made publicly known only at the time when their terms as Committee members expire. The term of appointment of the AC-EC members will be eight years and non-renewable, with three of the members being replaced each four years. However, for the first appointment of the Committee its six members will be nominated up to 2016 only, and three of them (not including the chair) will be renewed for other four years at the end of their first term

The Castelnuovo Award Committee will be completely autonomous once appointed. Its work and records will be kept internal and confidential, except for the obvious process of soliciting advice and information from the professional community, which is done by the Committee chair.

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