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Emma Castelnuovo Award

The ICMI Emma Castelnuovo Award for Excellence in the Practice of Mathematics Education

The Emma Castelnuovo Award was established to recognize outstanding achievements in the practice of mathematics education and to reflect a main aspect of the ICMI ‘essence’ . The award was named after Emma Castelnuovo, an Italian mathematics educator born in 1913, in celebration of her 100th birthday and in honor of her pioneering work.

The Emma Castelnuovo Award for outstanding achievements in the practice of mathematics education will honor persons, groups or projects engaged in the development and implementation of exceptionally excellent and influential work in the practice of mathematics education related to classroom teaching, curriculum development, instructional design (of materials or pedagogical models), teacher education programmes and/or field projects with a demonstrated influence on schools, districts, regions or countries. The Emma Castelnuovo Award seeks to recognize and to encourage efforts, ideas and their successful implementation in the field, as well as to showcase models and exemplars of inspirational practices to learn from.

Nominees for the award will be evaluated in light of the following criteria:

  • the educational rationale for the nominee’s work and what served as a catalyst for that work;
  • the problems addressed by the nominee;
  • the nominee’s role in addressing the problems, whether they involve curriculum development, teacher education, professional development, design of instruction, or other areas of mathematics education practice;
  • the conditions under which the work has taken place (the cultural and political context, infrastructure, funding, and people involved);
  • the originality and creativity involved in how the nominee has addressed problems and overcome obstacles;
  • the quality of networking with other key stakeholders (e.g., bridging theory and practice); external or internal evaluations of the work, if available;
  • the extent of the influence of the work on educational practice, including quantitative or qualitative evidence of that influence; and
  • the potential of the work to serve as a model (either for inspiring others addressing similar problems or because of taking an approach that could be applied elsewhere with appropriate modifications).

Nominations for the Emma Castelnuovo Award should be made by the nominator on the nomination form (found below) and include the following attachments:

  1. a document (max. 5 pages) describing the nominee’s programme and reasons for the nomination (including the nominee’s impact on the field);
  2. a one-page summary statement;
  3. an account of the genesis and dissemination of the nominee’s work and the roles of the people involved (if any), with brief curricula vitae of the key persons (max. 10 pages);
  4. electronic copies of three publications that reflect the nominee’s work related to the practice of mathematics education (e.g., journal articles, textbooks, other instructional materials, or CD-ROMs); (if instructional materials or similar are not written in English, an English translation of a key part – e.g. an abstract – and an independent statement on the publication’s quality written in English – e.g. a review – should be provided)
  5. at least three and no more than five letters of support (from different stakeholders and, if possible, by scholars from different countries); and
  6. the names and e-mail addresses of two persons who could provide further information, if needed.


The nomination should be send to the Chair of Emma Castelnuovo Award Committee via email. The email will be published here shortly.

About Emma Castelnuovo

Emma Castelnuovo Award


Emma Castelnuovo (12 December 1913 – 13 April 2014) was an Italian mathematician, daughter and niece of two famous Italian mathematicians, Guido Castelnuovo and Federigo Enriques, respectively. She graduated from the University of Rome in 1936 with a thesis on algebraic geometry. In 1938, when Italy passed new laws preventing Jews from holding state positions, she was fired from Rome University. After the Second World War ended, she decided to become a secondary school teacher until her retirement in 1979. In parallel, she committed herself to research and development of learning materials in mathematics education, which inspired many students, teachers and fellow educators. She was deeply influenced by her father and uncle and also by educators and psychologists such as Maria Montessori and Jean Piaget. Her pedagogical vision was based on encouraging young children and students to use observation, visualization, fantasy and imagination before any formalization. She encouraged students to use concrete objects, to experiment, to puzzle over unexpected outcomes and eventually to arrive at previously unknown results, without being told. She also stimulated looking at daily life phenomena through mathematical eyes. She published in the first volume of Educational Studies in Mathematics and presented at the first ICME in Lyon (1969) and at the third ICME in Karlsruhe (1976). Her international collaborations included the French network IREM, UNESCO, teaching school children in Niger, her involvement with many ICMI activities and she deeply influenced mathematics education in Italy and Spain.

In honor of her contributions and impact, ICMI decided to name the Award for Excellence in the Practice of Mathematics Education in her name on the occasion of her 100th birthday in 2013.