Mathematics for Human Flourishing: Francis Su

The Human Flourishing Program at Harvard University and the Department of Mathematics at Harvard University invites Harvard staff and students to a lecture on Mathematics and Flourishing


Dr. Francis Su "Mathematics for Human Flourishing"


October 6, 2022 | 4:30 -6:00 | Sever Hall 103



Francis Su is the Benediktsson-Karwa Professor of Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College and a former president of the Mathematical Association of America. In 2013, he received the Haimo Award, a nationwide teaching prize for college math faculty, and in 2018 he won the Halmos-Ford writing award. His research in geometric combinatorics includes many papers co-authored with undergraduates. His work has been featured in Quanta MagazineWired, and the New York Times. His book Mathematics for Human Flourishing (2020), winner of the 2021 Euler Book Prize, offers an inclusive vision of what math is, who it's for, and why anyone should learn it.

Talk abstract:

Math is more than just a way to describe the world, and it is more than just a set of skills, like doing arithmetic or factoring a quadratic.  Math is a deeply human enterprise that fulfills basic human longings, such as for beauty and truth, and when properly engaged, it builds virtues like persistence, creativity, and a competence to solve problems you've never seen before. These virtues will serve you well no matter what you do in life. The deep connection between mathematics and human desires show why people in every culture around the globe do mathematics, not just to build things and conduct commerce, but for enjoyment and exploration. An incarcerated man---now my friend---has helped me see this more clearly than ever before.