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ICMI Newsletter - November 2021

ICMI Newsletter - November 2021

Jean-Luc Dorier (ICMI Secretary General)
Merrilyn Goos (ICMI Vice President)
Lena Koch (ICMI Administrative Manager)


  1. Editorial – From the Desk of Carlos E. Kenig, President of IMU
  2. An Unforgettable Event – Brief Report on the 14th International Congress on Mathematical Education (ICME-14)
  3. Capacity and Network Project (CANP) Sustainability and Future Directions – A Report from the Discussion Group at ICME-14
  4. Report from the ICMI Studies Session at ICME-14
  5. Once upon a time… Historical Vignettes from the Archives of ICMI: The IMU Centennial
  6. News from our community: ICMI Country Representatives (CR) and Affiliated Organizations
    6.1    ICTMA 20 and the First Henry Pollak Awards
    6.2    News from Inter-American Committee on Mathematics Education
    6.3    News from the European Society for Research in Mathematics Education (ERME)
    6.4    AFRICME 6
  7. Conferences to Come
    7.1    MERGA 44 Conference 2022
    7.2.   2021 International Conference of Joint Societies for Mathematics Education: KSME & KSESM
    7.3.   9th European Summer University on the History and Epistemology in Mathematics Education
    7.4.   Seventh International Conference on the History of Mathematics Education (ICHME-7)
    7.5.  CIBEM IX– Congresso Iberoamericano de Educação Matemática/Iberoamerican Congress of Mathematics Education
    7.6.  EMF 2022

1. Editorial – Carlos E. Kenig, President of IMU

Mathematics without Borders: The IMU at 101

Carlos E. Kenig.jpgOn September 27 and 28, 2021, a conference—see—was held in Strasbourg, France (after a one year postponement due to the pandemic), commemorating the 100th anniversary of the founding of the International Mathematical Union (IMU) in 1920. The founding took place in Strasbourg, in the aftermath of the first world war, just prior to the International Congress of Mathematicians also held in Strasbourg. This version of the IMU had 11 countries as its members and it explicitly excluded the Central Powers. In hindsight, this was a terrible mistake. This fatal flaw in the creation of the first edition of the IMU led to its demise, it dissolved in 1932. At the end of the second world war, learning from the past, a new IMU was formed, open to all the countries in the world, and based on the principle of unrestricted internationalism. Close to 90 countries are now members of the IMU. ICMI, the first Commission of the IMU, was founded earlier and joined the IMU as a Commission in 1952 (see the historical vignette by Bernard Hodgson in the ICMI newsletter from July 2021). The IMU that we celebrated this past September is the one whose mission is to promote international cooperation, under the motto “Mathematics without Borders” coined by Olli Lehto, past Secretary General and historian of the IMU.

The celebration in Strasbourg last September was truly splendid. The event, which was hybrid, attracted close to 200 in-person participants and countless others participated on-line. Videos of the conference are available from the web-channel of the Université de Strasbourg and on the IMU website There were inspirational speeches by local and national French authorities, as well as testimonials from representatives of regional organizations, from Oceania, Africa, Europe and the Americas (mostly on-line). The International Science Council was represented, in person, by its president, Daya Reddy, who also delivered warm remarks. Norbert Schappacher, whom the IMU has commissioned to write a history commemorating this anniversary, gave a very interesting lecture, entitled “The Sinuous Road towards Global Mathematics” exploring this important topic (see the historical vignette by Bernard Hodgson in this newsletter). ICMI’s Secretary General, Jean-Luc Dorier, gave an inspirational lecture on CANP, the Capacity and Networking project in the developing world. Another important feature of the conference was an interview with four former presidents of the IMU, John Ball, Ingrid Daubechies, László Lovasz and Shigefumi Mori, and a former Secretary General, Martin Grötschel, who were asked a number of interesting questions about their terms in office. At the end of the first day of the conference, Moreno Andreatta (Strasbourg) gave an intriguing and extremely enjoyable presentation titled “The music of maths”, which challenged and delighted the participants.

A central part of the conference was a series of 15 minutes expository lectures from some of the leading research mathematicians in the world, addressing many of the currently active areas of the mathematical sciences (some of the lectures were given on-line). These lectures constituted a fantastic panorama of current frontiers of research in the mathematical sciences. This was a breath-taking experience, which is now fully available on-line.
Putting together such a wonderful conference in the very difficult current circumstances required the hard work and dedication of many people, especially those on the Scientific Committee and on the Organizing Committee. I would like to conclude by thanking most warmly Bertrand Remy (French National Committee for Mathematics) and Phillippe Helluy (Strasbourg) for their incredibly hard work without which this conference would not have been possible.

Mathematics Without Borders 2021.jpg

2. An Unforgettable Event – Report about ICME-14

Yingkang Wu, Jianpan Wang, Binyan Xu, Jiansheng Bao
East China Normal University, Shanghai, China

The 14th International Congress on Mathematical Education (ICME-14) was grandly held at East China Normal University in Shanghai from July 11 to 18, 2021. This was the first time that an ICME was held in China since the first ICME was held in Lyon, France, in 1969. It was of milestone significance to promote the development, exchange and cooperation of Chinese mathematics education theory and practice. The hosts of this Congress were the Chinese Mathematical Society, the East China Normal University, and the Shanghai Mathematical Society. The congress chair of ICME-14 was Professor WANG Jianpan from East China Normal University.


Due to the influence of the global COVID-19 pandemic, ICME-14, originally scheduled for July 2020, was postponed for a year. Under the background of COVID-19 global communication, with the support of the China Association for Science and Technology, China’s Ministry of Education, and Shanghai municipal government, with the joint efforts of mathematicians and mathematics educators at home and abroad, ICME-14 was successfully held under the unremitting efforts of the IPC and LOC members.

The opening ceremony of ICME-14 was held from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. local time on July 11, 2021. Li Qiang, Secretary of Shanghai municipal Party committee, Yu Shaoliang, deputy secretary, and Weng Tiehui, Vice Minister of education, attended the opening ceremony. Secretary Li Qiang and Vice Minister Weng Tiehui also delivered speeches at the congress. Huai Jinpeng, Secretary of the Party group of China Association for Science and Technology at that time and now the minister of China’s Ministry of Education, gave a wonderful speech in video form because he was unable to attend the opening ceremony in person due to official business. Also addressing the opening ceremony were Prof. Frederick Leung, President of ICMI, Professor Tian Gang, President of the Chinese Mathematics Association, and Qian Xuhong, President of East China Normal University. Wang Jianpan presided over the opening ceremony.




ICME-14 was a unique and unforgettable event in the history of this Congress. First of all, the organizational form of this conference was special by adopting a hybrid mode combining online and offline for the first time. The congress activities were arranged between 2 p.m. and 11 p.m. local time, so as to provide participants in different time zones with the best possible participation time. Under such careful arrangement, the scale of the conference was unaffected compared with previous ones, attracting a total of 3156 participants, including 1663 online participants and 1493 offline participants. The offline participants included 662 officially registered participants and 831 special participants (mainly mathematics teachers in primary and secondary schools in Shanghai). Although a majority of the participants could not communicate face-to-face, they could still exchange and share their understanding and latest research progress on mathematics and mathematics education via strong technological support.

Read the full report about the ICME-14 here.

3. CANP Sustainability and Future Directions

– A report from the discussion group at ICME-14
Anjum Halai, ICMI Vice President

Through sharing cross-national regional experiences, the CANP community aims to deepen and broaden the understanding of lessons learnt in the process of establishing the CANP and taking it forward towards sustainability. Towards this end at ICME-14 held in July 2021, all five CANPs were invited to come together in a Discussion Group (Organizing team listed below).

The meeting of the Discussion Group was held in a hybrid mode and Zoom link was provided by the ICME-14 organizers. However, there was no provision for break-out sessions. Hence the entire session was held in one large group. Each CANP presenter made a brief (5 min) presentation. CANP1 were part of the deliberations in preparing for the Discussion Group but were unable to participate in the session as they had some government duty. Presentations in the Discussion Group were largely guided by the following key questions:

  • What did the CANP do in 2020? How (if at all) were your activities impacted by the pandemic? (focus on one or two innovations/activities)
  • What is planned for the CANP in 2021? Why?
  • What new questions arise for the mathematics education community?
  • What are the similarities and differences in the opportunities and challenges arising in the CANPs?
  • What is the impact of CANP on mathematics education in the region? How could the impact be sustained?

Participation in the Discussion Group was strong and there was considerable interaction and discussion. Up to 35 participants took part in the discussion. The CANP Liaison members of the ICMI EC and the ICMI Secretary General also participated. The following key points emerged regarding the sustainability and role of ICMI:

  1. ICMI could continue to serve as a motivator or accelerator for the local mathematics education community and propel them forward. For example, Ferdinando Arzarello, then president of ICMI, provided resources such as access to the Web-Ex Platform (through his university) and significant mentorship and guidance for the local East African colleagues to set up a very successful workshop for teachers.
  2. ICMI could play a facilitating role in creating a framework for the CANPs and existing networks to work together. The case of AFRICME and CANP4 was discussed. It was proposed by one of the CANP4 members that the two bodies (AFRICME and CANP4) could work under one umbrella network ‘East Africa Mathematics Education & Research Network (EAMERN)’. This framework was agreed upon in the AFRICME held in Tanzania.
  3. It was noted that members of CANPs benefit from the larger exposure through participation in international conferences. Now that many of these opportunities are available online, ICMI could facilitate participation through registration fee support.
  4. There was a suggestion that ICMI could play a role in ‘elevating the profile’ of the events such as CANPs, by negotiating with the government or ministries of education. However, it was clarified by the General Secretary that ICMI does not negotiate directly with the government agencies. This is the role of the local entities.
  5. Subsequent to the meeting over Zoom there was also some exchange of email to explore the role of ICMI in providing ‘academic sponsorship’ for research on the effects of the Covid 19 pandemic on mathematics education.

To conclude, the Discussion Group provided a platform to all participants involved in creating, supporting and sustaining the CANP projects to come together and discuss key issues in a meaningful way.  Several ideas were generated to ensure sustainability of these networks that are vital to connect the critical mass of mathematicians and mathematics educations spread across vast geographical areas. The support from ICMI and ICME organizers was truly appreciated in enabling this interaction to take place.

Organizing Team of the Discussion Group at ICME-14:

  • Chair: Anjum Halai, Aga Khan University Pakistan

Team members:

  • Moustapha Sokhna & Mamadou Sangare (CANP1)
  • Yuri Morales and Nelly Leon (CANP2)
  • Maitree, Khamla and Vu Nhu Thu (CANP3)
  • Alphonse Uworwabayeho and Veronica Sarungi (CANP4)
  • Augusta, Gabriela and Maria del Carmen Bonilla Tumialan (CANP5)

4. Report from the ICMI Studies Session at ICME-14

Jill Adler, Immediate Past President of ICMI and Merrilyn Goos, ICMI Vice President

ICMI Studies are a central and influential activity of ICMI. Over nearly four decades now, 23 ICMI Studies have been completed. Each has been conducted by an international team of leading scholars and practitioners, and addressed a theme of particular significance to contemporary mathematics education ( At each ICME, a session is dedicated to presentations on current, ongoing or recently completed ICMI Studies. On 14 July, the ICME-14 community participated – either via Zoom or in person in the lecture room in Shanghai – in a very interesting session focused on ICMI Study 24:  School Mathematics Curriculum Reforms: Challenges, Changes, and Opportunities; and ICMI Study 25: Teachers of Mathematics Working and Learning in Collaborative Groups.

Jill Adler, Immediate Past President, ICMI, and ex-officio member of the IPC for each of Studies 24 and 25, provided a brief introduction to ICMI Studies and an overview of the results of the survey of Study participants undertaken by Jill and ICMI Vice-President Merrilyn Goos on behalf of the ICMI Executive Committee. The survey investigated the ways in which our community values the Studies and how they viewed the impact of the Studies on the field of mathematics education. Survey respondents identified several distinctive contributions of ICMI Studies: they foster international collaboration across diverse cultures, focus attention on a particular research theme, bring together diverse theories and perspectives, and produce a high-quality Study Volume that synthesizes current and future research trends in the field.

As she introduced the co-chairs of Studies 24 and 25 to make their presentations, Jill also thanked them and their committees for taking on the task of an ICMI Study. This involves extensive work over a number of years, and is thus an extraordinary commitment made by those who undertake to lead a Study on our behalf. To illustrate, Study 24 began developing its Discussion Document in 2017, and held its Study Conference at the end of 2018. Study 25 started its work in 2019 and held its conference in Portugal in 2020. The proceedings from each of these conferences are available on the ICMI website. And of course, there is critical work that follows the Study Conference involving production of the edited Study Volume – a lengthy and intensive process that the co-chairs of Studies 24 and 25 are currently leading.

The presentations began with ICMI Study 24:  School Mathematics Curriculum Reforms: Challenges, Changes, and Opportunities. Co-chair Yoshinori Shimizu (University of Tsukuba, Japan) provided an overview of the Study, its challenges and developments between 2017 and 2021. He listed the five themes emerging first in the Discussion Document, which then structured the Study Conference and the discussions of its working groups: Historical perspectives; Coherence and relevance; Implementation; Globalisation and internationalisation and Agents and processes. Each theme leader presented their key findings and implications, and co-chair Renuka Vithal (University of Fort Hare, South Africa) concluded the Study 24 presentation with key points emerging from the Study and for moving the field forward. These are interesting to highlight here, but we recommend reading the volume to appreciate their significance.

First was the point that while Study 24 occurred prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and thus it was not deliberated on in the Discussion Document, nor during the conference, each of the authors in the Study Volume has included reflections on the impact of the pandemic on school mathematics curriculum reform. For example, the educational challenges brought by the pandemic in the past year have magnified the importance of resources and technology in general, and thus for any curriculum reform as well. As resources can make or break reform, there needs to be adequate provision, and resources need to be appropriately adaptable, accessible and sustainable. Renuka then discussed the difficulties faced in defining key terms like “curriculum” and “reform”, and even “mathematics”; difficulties linked to the complexity and magnitude of curriculum reforms; their context-boundedness; and the diversity both within and across countries in which curriculum development and reforms take place. Compounding the challenges of the Study was confronting the reality in our field that while curriculum development occurs everywhere and has been extensive, there is not much curriculum development research, and particularly so in mathematics. This has impacted the development of theory and application in analyses of reforms and methodological challenges in researching reforms, particularly as this requires access to extensive data. Further challenges for research come from the long time frames over which reforms occur and their often politically sensitive nature. Renuka pointed out, however, that one key strength of the chapters in the Study Volume is that several authors themselves led or were involved in macro school mathematics curriculum reforms in their countries.

More specifically, Renuka pointed out the kinds of mathematics content shifts that were evident across reforms, such as the inclusion of mathematical modelling, mathematical literacy and numeracy; the shift to competency-based curricula; the emerging new focus on algorithmic/computational thinking. She also drew attention to the influence of international studies like TIMSS and PISA on reforms and the multiple stakeholders involved in reform. She particularly emphasised the roles of teachers in curriculum reform, with implications for teacher identity, knowledge and skills on the one hand and their involvement, ownership and commitment on the other. All these are key to success and ultimate scaling up. The Study also draws attention to how critical to successful reform is the “alignment” between means and effort; ideals and the system; the intended, implemented and attained curriculum; and goals, content materials, teaching activities and assessment. It is well known, but perhaps not sufficiently appreciated, that reforms are context-bounded, by virtue of the cultural values, social, political, educational and economic systems and conditions that prevail. Yet at the same time there are commonalities – there were invariances across contexts, a function of the internationalization and globalization processes – and so the emergence of similar content changes across contexts.

While the Study Volume captures these key findings and insights, it also identifies gaps that point to future research, particularly the influence of the media: while this has been extensive, there is very little attention given to the role and impact of the media on curriculum reform. Secondly, the field needs deeper understanding of the relationship between practitioners, researchers and policy makers and of how and where those in governments have power to initiate as well as halt school mathematics curriculum reforms.

The co-chairs of ICMI Study 25: Teachers of Mathematics Working and Learning in Collaborative Groups, Hilda Borko (Stanford University, USA), and Despina Potari (University of Athens, Greece) introduced the Study and its aims, which are to report the state of the art in mathematics teacher collaboration with respect to theory, research, practice, and policy; and to suggest new directions of research that take into account contextual, cultural, national and political dimensions. As with Study 24, the Discussion Document, Study Conference and the forthcoming Study Volume of Study 25 are organized around themes. The four themes are: Theoretical perspectives on studying mathematics teacher collaboration; Contexts, forms and outcomes of mathematics teacher collaboration; Roles, identities and interactions of various participants in mathematics teacher collaboration; and Tools and resources used/designed for teacher collaboration and resulting from teacher collaboration. In the case of Study 25, its conference (in Lisbon) was in early February 2020 and thus after the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic but before the world was aware of its nature and the rapidity with which it would spread. Because several countries had already begun to implement travel restrictions, virtual as well as in-person participation was catered for and this experience, although neither envisioned nor preferred, presented the opportunity for the Study group to reflect on and learn from an additional form of collaboration. Thus, as with Study 24, relevant reflections on the pandemic and its educational effects are incorporated across chapters in the Study Volume. Theme leaders presented overviews of the work of each theme, and the co-chairs concluded the presentation in a similar way by pulling out key insights from the Study as well as future research directions.

That there is complexity and diversity in the research and practice of teacher collaboration became evident through the Study Conference and presentation of papers. These qualities are evident in the theoretical frameworks, models of collaboration, people who participate in teacher collaboration, and the resources that come to be used and that shape collaborations. Together with the obvious role of contexts and conditions prevailing across teacher collaborations, all these produce a complex and diverse array of outcomes, be these in relation to students, teachers themselves, or the institutions in which they occur.

The richness of this complexity and diversity at the same time points to one key direction for future research: a need for more robust theorizing of mathematics teacher collaborations, with emphasis on “mathematics”, and so what is its specificity. Another absence that became evident was for the work of teacher collaboration to be more content-specific. An obvious need for the future is to research online and blended forms of collaboration, which was again highlighted by the conditions in which we have all found ourselves as a result of the pandemic over the past eighteen months. The research and practical learning to date has focused importantly on processes of teacher collaboration, and it is now necessary to look more critically at outcomes, and at the role and preparation of facilitators of teacher collaborative groups. A further recommendation, which also applies to other fields in mathematics education research, is for larger and more quantitative studies of mathematics teacher collaborations.

The session concluded with questions and discussion with the audience, and a reminder that the Study Volumes for ICMI Studies 24 and 25 will be freely available as open access books on SpringerLink (together with several other previously published Study Volumes – see details at


5. Once upon a time… The IMU Centennial

Bernard R. Hodgson, Curator of the ICMI Archive

A symposium was held on 27-28 September 2021 at the Université de Strasbourg (France)—see—on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the International Mathematical Union (IMU), the organization to which ICMI belongs as its education commission. The IMU centennial actually occurred a year earlier, as the Union was officially founded on 20 September 1920. However, due to the COVID pandemic, the event was postponed to this year.

Most of the lectures presented at the Strasbourg symposium were directly related to mathematics itself. But some offered a historical perspective on the origins of IMU—and of ICMI as well, for instance in the first half of the talk by ICMI Secretary-General Jean-Luc Dorier. I wish in this vignette to highlight a few selected elements from the lecture presented in the opening session by Norbert Schappacher, prof. em. at the Université de Strasbourg. His talk, entitled “The sinuous road towards global mathematics: Twenty-eight ICMs, two IMUs, and a moving web of international organizations”, is accessible on the web channel of the host university as well as on the IMU website—see [1].

Following a call appearing in the IMU circular letter of 10 May 2019 by the IMU Executive Committee to the so-called Adhering Organizations [2], Schappacher was entrusted with the task of writing a monograph related to the centennial of IMU. In the description of this project, the IMU EC had stressed the following aspects to be addressed in such a book:
“The purpose of the monograph is to put the IMU in a grander framework of international scientific unions, and the     internationalization of science and mathematics in particular. What was the impact of the world events through the 20th century on international science? In the beginning of the 20th century mathematicians were mostly men recruited from the elite in Europe and North America—what has been the impact of the changes we have seen?” [2, encl.]
Schappacher’s presentation at the Strasbourg symposium was based on his forthcoming book [3] (to appear in early 2022), whose chapters are grouped according to the following three periods:
•    The long nineteenth century that made the IMU possible: 1800-1918
•    Mathematical consolidations in times of tempest: 1919-1949
•    Seventy years of globalization: 1950-2020

As mentioned in an earlier ICMI Archive vignette [4], the creation of IMU itself was predated by the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM), whose series was launched in 1897. The early twentieth century period has already been examined from such a viewpoint, notably in the classic book of Lehto on the history of IMU [5] and more succinctly in Curbera’s book [6] on the ICM. The perspective used by Schappacher, as indicated in the proposed mandate [2, encl.], is not centred on IMU “inner life”, but rather encompasses a global vision of international relations in connection with science in general, and mathematics in particular. This explains why the International Research Council (IRC – 1919)—the ancestor of the body later known as ICSU (International Council of Scientific Unions – 1932) and more recently as ISC (International Science Council – 2018)—occupies a preeminent place in the first part of his lecture.

Stressing the progressive professionalization of the sciences (and of mathematics in particular) during the 19th century, the speaker also points to the emergence of nation states, an ingredient inherent to the concept of international enterprises. By the end of the century, the general idea of internationalization was much present, as testified for instance by the launching of the ICMs or, from an ICMI standpoint, by the creation in 1899 of L’Enseignement Mathématique [7], a journal with an explicit international mission and soon to become ICMI’s official organ, after the establishment of the Commission at the fourth ICM held in 1908.

Reminding the welcome address of Adolf Hurwitz at the very first ICM, who then emphasized the crucial role played by such events in fostering communications and personal contacts between mathematicians (see Hurwitz’s quotation in my previous vignette [4]), Schappacher opposes this stance to the spirit that prevailed after World War 1, prominence then being given to the idea of nation. The victorious allies imposed the model for the reconstruction of the scene for science when considered in an international perspective. IRC was thus established under a vision where the victors were taking control of international science, the Central Powers being explicitly excluded.

Discussions for the establishment of the International Mathematical Union under the IRC model—an incarnation that became known as the “first IMU”, alias the “old IMU” in Lehto’s parlance—already took place in 1919. But it is on 20 September 1920 in Strasbourg, at a meeting held two days prior to the ICM organized “in the newly re-Gallicized city” [8, p. 49], that the official inception of IMU occurred, Belgian Charles de la Vallée Poussin (of prime number theorem fame) becoming its first President. The spirit surrounding the organization of that ICM is well captured in the words “la grande manifestation patriotique et scientifique” (the great patriotic and scientific manifestation) used in his closing address by Gabriel Koenigs, the newly elected IMU Secretary General (such was the expression used for this position at the very outset of IMU). Reflecting on the role played by Koenigs, who served in that position until his passing in 1931, Lehto writes: “In light of later events, it is apparent that Koenigs inflicted damage upon the cause of the Union by persisting in maintaining an anti-German policy although times had changed and the passions aroused by the war had largely cooled down.” [5, p. 27] (By the way, describing the physical arrangement for the Strasbourg ICM, Schappacher notes tongue-in-cheek that according to a brochure intended for students, the lighting in the mathematics library of the university had then just been changed from gas to electric light.)

As a telling example of how the Strasbourg ICM would be perceived in hindsight, Schappacher uses excerpts from the memoirs of Norbert Wiener, who was in his mid-twenties at that time. About the decision to have this first post-war ICM take place in such a symbolic place as Strasbourg, Wiener writes:
“In many ways this was an unfortunate decision. It was one which later led me to regret my little share in sanctioning the meeting by my presence. The Germans were excluded as a sort of punitive measure. In my mature, considered opinion, punitive measures are out of place in international scientific relations.” [8, p. 49-50]
This is a clear expression of the tone for the reactions that developed among the mathematical community with respect not only to the Strasbourg congress per se, but more generally in relation to the essence of the first embodiment of IMU as well as the whole institution of the IRC.

The next ICMs (1924, 1928, 1932 and 1936) were organized under varying parameters in an evolving context marked by a growing resistance to the IRC model, and eventually independently of IMU itself. All this led to the dissolution of the Union in 1932 [5, p. 56-60]. It is only after World War 2 that efforts were made to reorganize the international mathematical community, but this time avoiding the pitfalls that marred the first venture. A crucial protagonist for that period is the American mathematician Marshall H. Stone, who was to become the first president (1952-1954) of the “second IMU” (or “new IMU”). Stone played an essential role both with respect to the organization of the first post-war ICM in 1950, but also in paving the way that led to IMU being officially given a new start in 1952 and eventually joining ICSU, which already in 1932 had succeeded to IRC.

To the question: What lessons had been learned, at the time of the early existence of the new IMU after World War 2, from the political failure of the first IMU?, the speaker’s answer is: When inviting people, you should avoid exclusion on the basis of national origin. Such is the core message underlying the title of Lehto’s book [5]: Mathematics without borders. And this was considered to be the negation of politics. But being fully “apolitical” is sometimes difficult to reconcile with the constraints of actual political configurations. Schappacher offers as an example the case of the Cold War which, already at the time of the 1950 ICM in Cambridge (USA), provoked difficulty for issuance of visas, including for the French Fields medallist Laurent Schwartz on the basis of his Trotskyist political orientation and activism. Schwartz finally managed to obtain a visa and be present at the ICM in order to receive his medal. But on the same occasion, the Uruguayan mathematician and communist politician José Luis Massera was not admitted to the USA.

The case of Massera remained an active one for a long while, as he was arrested in Uruguay in 1975, tortured, and eventually convicted for subversive association. He was finally released in 1984. But meanwhile many actions were taken in support of his case. An example presented by Schappacher is from a document found in the IMU Archive. This letter [9] was sent in May 1982 to IMU Secretary Jacques-Louis Lions by Canadian mathematician and social activist Israel Halperin, on behalf of the “International Campaign-Massera” directed by Halperin and Henri Cartan, former IMU President (1967-1970) and member of the French Académie des sciences. The letter was asking IMU to take actions such as issuing a public statement supporting the release of Massera and recommending IMU Adhering Organizations take appropriate actions with the same aim. Halperin concluded his letter as follows:
“I appreciate that some voices will be raised in opposition to this request on the grounds that the IMU is not authorised to get involved in politics. But it should be clear to all that this is a question of simple humanity and does not involve political attitudes or influence.” [9]
This matter was discussed by the IMU EC at its following meeting, where it was decided to bring this case to the attention of ICSU Standing Committee on the Safeguard of the Pursuit of Science—see Lions’ letter of 11 August 1982 [10]. The next IMU EC starting its term in 1983, with Olli Lehto as Secretary, renewed its support to Massera, this time including a petition received in the meantime [11]. IMU was informed in August 1983 that the ICSU Standing Committee had decided to ask the ICSU Executive Board “to make a statement to the appropriate authorities of Uruguay stressing the urgency of releasing Prof. Massera from prison.” [12]

The Massera episode is typical of IMU policy of transferring such matters to ICSU. As a conclusion to this part of his talk, Schappacher raises the issue why the obvious social appeal and public visibility of IMU today could not be used for humanitarian causes of the kind addressed in Halperin’s letter. The question, he comments, should no longer be just the inclusion of all the nations that want to participate in the world of mathematics, but whether established contacts could be used in favour of issues like the one presented above.

In the last part of his lecture, Schappacher briefly surveys a quantitative analysis concerning mathematicians having played distinguished roles at various ICMs. This is connected of course to a remark in the IMU EC brief mentioned above, in relation to the omnipresence of European and North American men in international mathematics activities of the early 20th century. Besides the issue of women in mathematics, various aspects are discussed, including the geographic distribution of the total ICM population as compared to that of the plenary speakers, the evolution of the major institutions around the world represented among these distinguished roles, as well as the domains of mathematics covered in the plenary lectures.

Some may have wondered, why would one want to “celebrate” the IMU centennial? What is the point in going back to the inception of IMU in 1920, to a time when the global political situation was an extremely difficult one, to a very peculiar situation clearly reflected in the exclusion policy on which IMU was first built? It is of course the role of history—in this case, the history of mathematical institutions—to look at the past, to know about its peculiarities, and understand how and why things have happened. And to use this information to guide us in our present, and prepare for the future. So, in a way, the point is not really to celebrate. Or at least not to indulge in a blind celebration. Such is the perspective proposed by Norbert Schappacher, who concludes his talk with a montage displaying photographs of all IMU presidents since 1952, surrounding a picture of French mathematician Émile Picard—president (1919-1931) of IRC during its brief existence and also president of the 1920 Strasbourg ICM. Doing so, the speaker aims to recall the earlier period of the first IMU, which came to an end so quickly because of its particular premises.

[1] Schappacher. N. (2021). The sinuous road towards global mathematics: Twenty-eight ICMs, two IMUs, and a moving web of international organizations. (27 September 2021) Invited talk presented at the IMU Centennial symposium, Université de Strasbourg. [ or] (Accessed on November 1, 2021)
[2] IMU (2019). An invitation to write a monograph on the occasion of the centennial of the IMU. IMU AO Circular Letter 10 (May 10, 2019) + enclosure. [] (Accessed on November 1, 2021)
[3] Schappacher, N. (2022). Framing global mathematics: The International Mathematical Union between politics and theorems. (To appear) Springer.
[4] Hodgson, B.R. (2021). The origins of the ICMEs. (“Once upon a time… Historical vignettes from the ICMI Archives”) ICMI News (July 2021) #5. [] (Accessed on November 1, 2021)
[5] Lehto, O. (1998). Mathematics without borders: A history of the International Mathematical Union. New York : Springer. []
[6] Curbera, G.P. (2009). Mathematicians of the world, unite! The International Congress of Mathematicians—A human endeavor. Wellesley, MA : A.K. Peters. []
[7] Coray, D., Furinghetti, F., Gispert, H., Hodgson, B.R., & Schubring, G. (Eds.). (2003). One hundred years of L’Enseignement Mathématique: Moments of mathematics education in the twentieth century (Proceedings of the EM-ICMI Symposium, Geneva, 2000, Monograph no. 39). Geneva : L’Enseignement Mathématique. []
[8] Wiener, N. (1956). I am a mathematician: The later life of a prodigy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
[9] Halperin, I. (1982). Letter to Jacques-Louis Lions, IMU Secretary, 7 May. IMU Archive/ SF 1 / Ser 21 / F2: Massera 1978-1983. [Box 21A]
[10] Lions, J.-L. (1982). Letter to H. Gyllenberg, ICSU Standing Committee on the Safeguard of the Pursuit of Science, 11 August. IMU Archive/ SF 1 / Ser 21 / F2: Massera 1978-1983. [Box 21A]
[11] Lehto, O. (1983). Letter to H. Gyllenberg, ICSU Standing Committee on the Safeguard of the Pursuit of Science, 13 May. IMU Archive/ SF 1 / Ser 21 / F2: Massera 1978-1983. [Box 21A]
[12] Pietinen, P. (1983). Letter to Olli Lehto, IMU Secretary, 17 August. IMU Archive/ SF 1 / Ser 21 / F2: Massera 1978-1983. [Box 21A]

6. News from our Community

Latest updates from our ICMI Country Representatives (CR) and Affiliated Organizations

6.1 ICTMA20 and the first Henry Pollak Awards



ICTMA20 Virtual Meeting at University of Würzburg in September 2021
Hans-Stefan Siller, chair ICTMA20

On 21st and 22nd September 2021, the International Community of Teachers of Mathematical Modelling and Application (ICTMA) met online for a virtual meeting hosted by the University of Würzburg. This was one year after the scheduled time for the 20th International Conference on Teaching of Mathematical Modelling and Applications, which had to be postponed by one year. The first day was dedicated to the topic ‘Mathematical Modeling Competencies’. After a welcome by the ICTMA20 chair Hans-Stefan Siller and ICTMA president Gabriele Kaiser, presentations from a special issue of Educational Studies in Mathematics on Innovations in measuring and fostering modelling competencies were given by the authors. The presentations were introduced by Stanislaw Schukajlow and a lively discussion took place. Finally, the recipients of the Henry-Pollak-Award were announced. Overall, the meeting was well attended with about 150 participants.
The second day of the virtual meeting was dedicated to Early Career Researcher Activities. Early Career Researchers had the chance to discuss important aspects of writing and publishing academically on mathematical modelling education in four parallel workshops. Over 100 participants took advantage of this offer and discussed related aspects with guest editors of special issues on mathematical modelling education research. The following workshops were offered: Stanislaw Schukajlow (Educational Studies in Mathematics), Gloria Stillman (Mathematical Thinking and Learning), Werner Blum and Susana Carreira (Quadrante), Marcelo Borba and Gabriele Kaiser (ZDM – Mathematics Education).

ICTMA Career Research medal awarded
Gabriele Kaiser, President of ICTMA

The ICTMA Career Research medal –named The Henry Pollak Award– established at ICTMA18 in 2017 in Stellenbosch has been awarded for the first time in 2021 and was announced at the ICTMA20 virtual meeting on 21st September 2021. The award ceremony honoring the recipients will take place in 2022 at the official ICTMA20 conference, which is scheduled from 26th to 30th September 2022.
The Henry Pollak Award is presented to three eminent scholars due to their impressive research – not only in mathematical modelling – over decades, progressing the empirical discourse on mathematical education, important theoretical work on mathematical modelling, amongst others the understanding of mathematical modelling, modelling competencies, modelling cycles and their strong commitment to the progress of ICTMA as a community.

The three awardees are: Prof. Dr. Werner Blum, University of Kassel (Germany) (left), Prof. Dr. Peter Galbraith
The University of Queensland (Australia) (center) and Prof. Dr. Mogens Niss Roskilde University (Denmark) (right).

awardees 2021.png

6.2 News from Inter-American Committee on Mathematics Education

Mathematics Education and Pandemic in the Americas
Angel Ruiz, President of IACME

Number 20 of Cuadernos de Investigación y Formación en Educación Matemática [Journal of Research and Teacher Preparation in Mathematics Education] edited by the University of Costa Rica was published in September 2021. It is a monographic number: Mathematics Education and Pandemic in the Americas. It includes 23 academic articles in relation to the situation written by 39 authors from 15 countries of the region (experiences, reflections, and proposals). This issue was possible thanks to the collaboration of the Journal’s editorial team and the Inter-American Committee on Mathematics Education and the Network of Mathematics Education for Central America and the Caribbean.

Link to this Cuadernos´ number:

III Congress of Mathematics Education for Central America and the Caribbean and a Tribute to Ubiratan D’Ambrosio

III Congreso de Educación Matemática de América Central y el Caribe [III Congress of Mathematics Education for Central America and the Caribbean] is the third congress organized by the Mathematics Education Network for Central America and the Caribbean (November 24-26, 2021, Languages: Spanish and Portuguese). This regional organization was born in 2012 during a workshop of the Capacity and Networking Project (CANP 2). The III CEMACYC is virtual and will have the participation of 50 invited speakers from 20 countries. Most of the participants will be teachers, although also researchers and Mathematics Educators will attend.  It is organized locally in Costa Rica in essence by the Mathematics Education Reform in Costa Rica Project, which includes a human team that designed the official national curriculum of Costa Rica in mathematics for grades 1-12 (in force since 2012). Also, the support of the Inter-American Committee on Mathematics Education has been important to the organization of this event.

During this congress there will be a special Tribute to Ubiratan D’Ambrosio (who passed some months ago) with the participation of speakers from Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, México, and the United States.

Link of the Congress:


6.3 News from ERME

Carl Winsløw, ERME President

  1. CERME12 - to be held in Bolzano, February 2022 – has received well over 700 papers and posters submitted, and more than 800 preregistrations. This success is behind a few changes in the registration procedure. You can find the details here. And do not forget that CERME13 will be held already Jan. 31-Feb.4, 2023.
  2. ETC11 – ERME Topic Conference 11, on University Mathematics Education – will be held October 12-15, 2022, in Hanover, Germany. See the first announcement here.
  3. ECT12 - ERME Topic Conference 12, on Language in the Mathematics Classroom – will be held in Oxford, United Kingdom, September 7-10, 2022.  See the first announcement here.
  4. YESS12 (12th YERME summer school) will be held in Linz, Austria,  August 21-27, 2022. A call for applications will appear next month (with deadline shortly after CERME12)
  5. CERME14 is still far ahead, as it is to be held in early 2025, but the ERME board has now issued a call for bids to host this major event. The deadline to apply is April 1, 2022.

Watch the for other forthcoming news!



Mercy Kazima, ICMI EC liaison person for AFRICME

The 6th Africa Regional Congress of ICMI on Mathematical Education (AFRICME 6) took place from 25 to 27 October 2021. The congress was organized by the University of Rwanda through its African Centre of Excellence in Innovative Teaching and Learning Mathematics and Science (ACEITLMS), in collaboration with ICMI. It was a virtual congress due to the COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions. The theme for AFRICME 6 was Teaching and Learning Mathematics in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), with four sub themes; Enhanced Mathematics Learning Process Through ICT, Teaching Mathematics in the Era of COVID-19, Blended/ hybrid/Distance learning in mathematics education, and Mathematics Teacher Professional Development schedule.  The congress also welcomed other presentations not directly addressing the themes. Participants were drawn from many countries in Africa, including Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, as well as from outside Africa (Italy, Norway, Pakistan, and Russia).

The congress ran for three full days starting at 9.00 and ending at or after 16.00. It started with an opening ceremony with speeches by the Vice Chancellor of University of Rwanda and the honorable Minister of Education. There were four invited plenary presentations. The first was by Anjum Halai (Pakistan). She discussed Mathematics Teacher Development through Partnerships and Networks. The second was by Ferdinando Arzarello (Italy). His presentation was on students’ mathematics learning and mathematics teacher education within blended and distance environments. He proposed what he called fresh landscapes and fresh theoretical perspectives. The third was by Luneta Kakoma (South Africa). Luneta examined whether the Fourth Industrial Revolution can resolve why the teaching of mathematics in the current paradigm continues to be decontextualized and ineffective. The fourth and final plenary was by Omolola Ladele (Nigeria), and he discussed Teaching Mathematics in the era of COVID-19.

There were 39 presentations in three parallel sessions. Most of the presentations were about teaching and learning mathematics in the various contexts in Africa. Some addressed the themes of the congress on mathematics teacher professional development, enhanced mathematics learning through ICT, and Teaching Mathematics in the Era of COVID-19. A few addressed the theme of blended/hybrid/distance learning in mathematics education.
National presentations were one of the highlights of the congress where all the African countries represented at the congress shared how mathematics teacher education has been delivered during the COVID 19 pandemic. There were a total of 10 presentations in two parallel sessions of 5 countries each. Discussions from the national presentations have potential to develop into more networking across the countries.

Finally, there was a plenary session that discussed the future of AFRICME. AFRICME was established in 2005 at the first congress that was hosted by the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. The aim was to offer a forum for mathematics educators and those interested in mathematics education throughout Africa. At that time, it was agreed that the congress would take place every two years and in different African countries. Following the AFRICME 1 in 2005 in South Africa, AFRICME 2 was in Kenya in 2007, AFRICME 3 in Botswana in 2010, AFRICME 4 in Lesotho in 2013, AFRICME 5 in Tanzania in 2018, and then the AFRICME 6 in Rwanda in 2021. The congresses have not been regular and this is mostly because there is no organizational structure to spearhead the planning and hosting of the congresses. The Future of AFRICME discussion was therefore important. Among other things, an organizational structure was discussed and agreed on. The structure is adapted from and linked to the already established structures of the East Africa Mathematics Education and Research Network (EAMERN) and ADiMA (Association des Didacticiens des Mathématiques d’Afrique de l’Ouest et du Nord - the Western and North African Association for Researchers in Mathematics Education). The main objective is to have AFRICME well-structured and become an affiliated organization of ICMI.

The AFRICME community is grateful to the University of Rwanda and the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) for making AFRICME 6 possible. The LOC was as follows: Alphonse Uworwabayeho (Chair), Marcellin Rutegwa (Co-chair), Leon Mugabo, Vedaste Mutarutinya, Jean Francois Maniraho, Maurice Mwizerwa, Benjamin  Karangwa, Geraldine Irankunda, Pascasie Nyirahabimana, and Edwige Kampire.


7. Conferences to come

7.1 MERGA 44


From Greg Oates

We are excited to announce that the MERGA 44 annual conference will be held in Australia, on the University of Tasmania’s Inveresk Precinct Campus, from the 3rd to 7th July 2022, in Launceston, Tasmania.  We are optimistic that this conference might be our first opportunity to meet physically with our MERGA colleagues in several years. However, we recognize that there remains ongoing uncertainty with respect to travel restrictions, and will thus be planning for a hybrid conference, with online access for those unable to travel, to both attend other presentations and present themselves.  
Conference Welcome:
Conference Website (for submission information):


7.2. 2021 International Conference KSME & KSESM 

The Korea Society of Mathematical Education (KSME) invites submissions of presentation proposals for the upcoming 2021 International Conference of Joint Societies for Mathematics Education: KSME & KSESM (Korea Society of Educational Studies in Mathematics).
The conference will be held on December 10-12, 2021 at Incheon National University, South Korea.  Because of the pandemic situation, all presentations will be delivered online. We encourage you to share your research not limited to the conference theme with Korean and international researchers.  Registration fee: USD 30.
Deadline for submitting a full Paper: November 7 (Sunday), 2021
More information here:

7.3. ESU-9 on The History and Epistemology in Mathematics Education

9th European Summer University on The History and Epistemology in Mathematics Education
18-22 July 2022, University of Salerno – Department of Mathematics - Fisciano (SA), Italy

30 November 2021: deadline for submitting Abstracts of proposals for all types of activities.
31 December 2021: Notification of acceptance or not of the submitted proposals.
31 January 2022: Deadline for submission of revised abstracts.

More information on the website: and here:

7.4. ICHME-7

Seventh International Conference on the History of Mathematics Education (ICHME-7)
Dates: September 19. – 23, 2022
Location: University of Mainz, (Germany)
Abstracts of proposed contributions must be submitted before February 1, 2022
More information on the conference website
and here.


CIBEM IX– Congresso Iberoamericano de Educação Matemática / Iberoamerican Congress of Mathematics Education
Dates: December 5 to 9, 2022
Location: CIBEM IX will be held in the city of Sao Paolo
IX CIBEM is planned as a space open to all current perspectives, theoretical and conceptual approaches that permeate both empirical work and theoretical reflection of those who practice Mathematics Education. The expected number of participants is 1200, awaiting the attendance of researchers, professors and undergraduate and graduate students interested in Mathematics Education.
More information on the website:

7.6. EMF 2022

Dates: December 12 to 16, 2022
Location: Cotonou (Bénin)
Language: French  
More information on the website: