ISSUES IN EDUCATION

Colloquia on teaching, introducing O.R.

By Nkem Khumbah and James J. Cochran

The University of Buea, Cameroon, is organizing the third of its International Conference Series on the Mathematical Sciences set for April 30-May 3, 2013. The conference will bring together academicians and professionals who have diverse backgrounds yet are bound together by cross-disciplinary interests related to mathematical sciences. The conference aims to demonstrate the vital role that mathematics plays in various areas of professional research and society, and to bridge as well as nurture understanding and collaboration between global and African regional mathematical scientists and practitioners.

The Buea Conference is the meeting crossroads of African, Diaspora and International Mathematical Science communities.

The conference is scheduled to coincide with the second week of a two-week International Summer School on Mathematical Finance and Actuarial Science at Buea. The Summer School will include lectures, guided practice and problem-solving tasks for small groups on the following topics:

  • Introduction to Stochastic Analysis
  • Introduction to Risk and Insurance: Technical and Financial Features of Risk Transfers
  • Introduction to Life Insurance Mathematics
  • Mortality Trends, Mortality Projections and Longevity Risk
  • Actuarial Mathematics for Pensions and Life Annuities
  • Introduction to Financial Mathematics
  • Portfolio Optimization
  • Interest Rates and Credit Risks
  • Electronic Banking
  • Stock Markets, Options Pricing and Trading

The conference will accommodate a broad variety of presentations and provide exposure for emerging regional mathematical science research centers in Africa. It will also facilitate the establishment of new collaborative relationships through an assortment of social activities. Planned activities include:

  • excursions to Mount Cameroon (the second tallest peak in Africa) and/or Debundscha (the second wettest place on Earth),
  • a dinner in the Atlantic Coastal resort city of Limbe, and
  • various cultural events.

As an enhancement to the third Buea International Conference on the Mathematical Sciences, Nkem Khumbah and James J. Cochran are working together to organize two colloquia. One will focus on ways to increase student interest and engagement in mathematics (with a focus on operations research); the other will introduce conference participants to the field of operations research.

The first colloquium on teaching effectiveness will feature several interactive, 90-minute workshops given by colleagues who are recognized as leaders in effective innovation in mathematics education. It will be similar in composition and format to the recent INFORMS/IFORS International Teaching Effectiveness Colloquium series, which drew participants from 45 nations to six annual events since 2006. The 2012 colloquium will build on the success of its predecessors.

The teaching effectiveness colloquium is designed to extend the quickly developing network of academicians and practitioners who are concerned with the quality of operations research education in nations throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. Topics to be covered may include writing and teaching with cases, active learning, getting undergraduate students involved in research, project-based learning and publishing in education-oriented journals. Through the colloquium, organizers hope to encourage the development of fresh original approaches to O.R. education and facilitate sharing of novel effective classroom practices across cultures.

The second colloquium will introduce conference participants, who are well educated in a wide variety of areas of mathematics but have had little or no exposure to operations research, to this exciting and useful discipline. Through this colloquium, which will comprise several 90-minute workshops on a variety of topics fundamental to operations research, organizers hope to motivate conference attendees to integrate O.R. into the courses they teach and their universities’ mathematics curricula. Organizers also hope to promote conference attendees’ participation in O.R. research and application of the discipline to problems of societal importance, and foster the establishment of collaborative research efforts.

Individuals interested in contributing to these efforts and attending the third Buea International Conference on the Mathematical Sciences should contact Nkem Khumbah (nkhumbah@umich.edu; +1 734 936-9390) or Jim Cochran (jcochran@latech.edu; +1 318 257 3445). For registration, travel and more information about the conference, visit the conference Web site (http://bueaconference.com/).

Nkem Khumbah is a lecturer at University of Michigan. James J. Cochran is the Bank of Ruston Endowed Research Professor at Louisiana Tech University.