Although mathematics is a discipline with ancient roots, the last 250 years have seen mathematics burgeon tremendously. It has been estimated that more than 99% of today's mathematics was unknown in the time of Euclid. The classical aspects of mathematics are almost philosophical in flavor. The modern aspects are extremely practical, with much to offer to other subjects and the world at large.
The Mathematics Department at St. Joseph's University shapes its mission around both the classical and modern aspects of the discipline. The curriculum aims to impart four sorts of knowledge:
- cultural enrichment (as befits courses at a liberal arts institution, especially a Jesuit one);
- training in specific skills that inform the practical side of the subject;
- professional preparation for those students who will choose careers as mathematicians, statisticians, actuaries or educators; and
- experience in research and in independent work at the undergraduate level.
The curriculum has a deeper goal, however, than just the communication of specific knowledge. Success in mathematics requires a trained mind, one that can deal with abstractions and think logically and clearly. We in this department believe that such clarity of thought can be taught, and we have designed our curricula with this aim in mind; for a student who is not a strong clear thinker cannot carry away enthusiasm for the subject and cannot continue to learn on his or her own.
Our goal is thus threefold: to impart to our students the specifics, both classical and modern, of mathematics; to train our students to be careful, precise, mature thinkers; and to ensure our students graduate with the intellectual preparation necessary to apply what they have learned, to communicate it to others, and to continue their education indefinitely.