i/e Spotlight: CIMPA, ICTP, IMU, EMALCA, et al.

by Adriana Salerno (from Beijing)

So far in this blog, we have focused mostly on issues of diversity and inclusion affecting mathematicians in the United States. But as an immigrant myself, I feel it is important to remember that we are part of a global community of mathematicians, and in particular that mathematicians in developing countries face many additional challenges to those we face here. There are some institutions that are doing great work to strengthen the mathematics and create networks of mathematicians in developing countries, and I thought I would briefly showcase some of their work here.

I’m probably most directly familiar with the work of CIMPA, ICTP, and the IMU, and in particular with the schools and workshops  they organize in developing countries. I was lucky to have taught a course in Benin in 2014, and two more courses this year, in Cote d’Ivoire and Turkey. The benefits of these schools are numerous: students get to take challenging graduate level courses in areas that they perhaps don’t know so well, they get to meet faculty from other countries, and they develop connections with other students and faculty in the region. Often these schools will be organized around a theme (mine were all number theory based, of course), and involve a combination of faculty from schools in Europe, the US, and Canada, for example, and local or regional faculty.

The projects are developed and proposed about two years in advance of the event, as it takes a while to secure the funding and plan all of the logistics. The call for proposals for the 2019 cycle is here, and if you’re thinking of proposing a workshop, you could start by looking at the poster of upcoming workshops here.  Usually, the ICTP and the IMU will help with the funding. Although I must clarify: the funding is for students in developing countries only, so if you’re an instructor traveling from the US (like me) you have to secure your own travel funding, although there is usually local lodging and food support. As a faculty member who cares about sharing mathematics with everyone, it is a wonderful experience, and I have met many amazing students and faculty through these schools.

Some of these institutes also have some great grant and fellowship programs. The ICTP, for example, was founded by Nobel Prize winner Abdus Salam with the mission of being a top-level theoretical physics and mathematics institute that also focuses on funding and supporting people from developing countries. They have visiting researcher programs, travel grants, and fellowships for graduate students and postdocs. The IMU has travel grants for students and researchers wanting to attend the ICM and other conferences. I can’t stress how important this is for mathematicians who work in Universities that just don’t have the means to help their researchers stay connected to the state of the art in their field and other world class mathematicians. It is huge!

These three institutions I mentioned are fairly International in scope, and are all based in Europe. More regional institutions also organize these types of intensive schools and have grants programs. In Latin America and the Caribbean, for example, there are also EMALCA schools, co-sponsored by the Latin America and Caribbean Mathematical Union and CIMPA. In Africa, there are EMA schools, co-sponsored by the African Mathematical Union and CIMPA. It is actually kind of hard to keep up with it all, there are so many amazing programs out there. My dear friend Francesco Pappalardi and the Roman Number Theory association have started the Nepal Algebra Project, bringing Algebra and Number Theory to Nepalese students. The awesome Federico Ardila has been doing wonderful things for students in Colombia (read his article on the Notices about this, Todos Cuentan, here).

This is just a sample, really, of all the international groups that are trying to include and elevate mathematicians from all parts of the world, and especially to support those mathematicians who are at more isolated and less affluent countries. I have been fortunate to have been involved in even a small part of all this, and I hope to continue to do more. Please, share any other programs I may have missed in the comments section below, and join me in helping the mathematical world truly become an inclusive one.

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One Response to i/e Spotlight: CIMPA, ICTP, IMU, EMALCA, et al.

  1. Kyrylo O. Stetsenko says:

    Dear Dr Salerno,
    I guess you may value this little musical piece – “Mathematics Land”
    A kind of uniting resounding symbol for global mathematical community.
    To encourage and to inspire.

    World’s first-of-a-kind romantic song. About Mathematics. For mathematicians. Made by mathematicians.

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