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CUPM Deep History

A true historical archive for CUPM would likely date to the founding of the MAA in 1915, since undergraduate mathematics has since the beginning been both our focus and our strength. The items we’ll post here are selected based entirely on personal taste, and provide a glimpse of the kinds of things one can find searching through back issues of the American Mathematical Monthly.

Establishment of the first incarnation of CUPM was approved at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in December 1952, and announced in the report of the Board of Governors meeting on page 215 of The Thirty-Sixth Annual Meeting of the Association, The American Mathematical Monthly, Vol. 60, No. 3 (Mar., 1953), pp. 214-218.

Not surprisingly, there were diverse opinions regarding the appropriate nature of the undergraduate curriculum and how best to teach it. The articles below are a sampling from those that appeared in the early years of CUPM.

  • CUPM, The History of an Idea, by W. L. Duren, Jr., first published in the American Mathematical Monthly, Vol. 74, No. 1, Part 2: Fiftieth Anniversary Issue (Jan. 1967, pp. 23-37, provides an excellent overview of the first decade of CUPM’s work, as well as offering an historical perspective on the evolution of undergraduate mathematics in the U.S.
  • In the late 1970s, the MAA published a two-volume Compendium of CUPM Recommendations, comprised of about twenty reports and projects from the 1960s and 1970s on improving the undergraduate curriculum. These CUPM recommendations were produced by the cooperative efforts of several hundred mathematicians in the United States and Canada.
  • In the 1980s, efforts that collectively were labeled calculus reform had a major impact on the work of CUPM, as well as resulting in the establishment of the CUPM Subcommittee on Calculus Reform and the First Two Years (CRAFTY), subsequently renamed the Subcommittee on Curriculum Renewal and the First Two Years,reflecting a somewhat broader perspective while cleverly retaining the CRAFTY name. For an overview of the calculus reform initiative, see this article by Bill Haver, reprinted from Calculus: Catalyzing a National Community for Reform, a report published by MAA in 1998. More material on calculus reform will be published on this site soon.