14 | Math Students Go into the World Internationalizing the Mathematics Curriculum with the Calculus of Sustainability By Tracy Bibelnieks, Mark Lester, John Zobitz Photographs by Stephen Geffre E very semester when advising students we (which throughout this article refers to Tracy and John) have encouraged our math majors to consider an interna-tional education experience. To our chagrin, the students inevitably balked. Their reasons ranged from meeting requirements for double majors to concerns about miss-ing required courses to language barriers. Knowing from our own undergraduate programs how transformative an international experience can be, we saw the situation as a personal challenge. We were determined to combine inter-national education and mathematics. approved to the trip. This may seem like an inordinate amount of time, but it was necessary to finalize all the trip details. John worked on designing a project for the inter-national education experience that incorporated calculus concepts. Educational goals included constructing a math-ematical model from intuition, incorporating eyewitness At Augsburg College, faculty can submit proposals for in-ternational education trips. After initial conversations with the Center for Global Education, an international educa-tion office located at Augsburg, we proposed a spring-break international experience embedded into a calculus II course. We outlined a week in Nicaragua investigating sustainable agriculture and coffee production as our focus. The proposal was accepted. Overall, there was strong stu-dent interest in the program, and we were excited to lead the trip. While the idea of pairing international travel with calculus II seemed odd, this format was the most ideal: calculus II has a broader audience of mathematics and natural science majors, and the trip would occur during a time that wouldn’t conflict with research and internships. As a large portion of students in calculus II are second-semester first-year students, we saw this travel opportunity as a starting experience for them to develop an interest in global citizenship. We had eighteen months from the time the proposal was  0$$)2&86v2&72%(5
IRFXVKWPO (Left) White cliffs surround the area the class visited in northern Nicaragua. (Above) Coffee, which was just starting to flower, is the main cash crop for the farmers in the co-op. (Insett) Some ripe beans left over from the last harvest. knowledge, and analyzing collected data. We would expect students to communicate project results to the local com-munity. During the planning stage, we conducted extensive recruiting sessions making the target audience—calculus I students—aware of this opportunity. Unfortunately, we had few applications. We attributed this to both the cost of the trip and the sense that students felt they “could do study abroad later.” It became clear, however, that upper-level mathematics students were extremely interested in signing up for the experience. We modified the structure of the course so that upper-level students could participate. Seven students registered for the trip. Two were concurrently enrolled in calculus II. The remainder were advanced mathematics students, most of whom were pursuing double majors with physics, chemistry, or computer science. We met as a class every other week during the semester.