Merel Schalkers reflects on Mathematical Philosophy for Female Students summer school

13 September 2017

This summer, the fourth edition of the annual summer school Mathematical Philosophy for Female Students took place at Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich, Germany. After hearing about the experience two other AUC students had during the previous year, current AUC student Merel Schalkers decided to participate in this edition.

LMU AUC student

Women from around world in Munich

During the summer school, around 20 women from all over the world came to Munich for a week of lectures on mathematical philosophy. Although it may sound quite specific, the summer school covered a rather wide range of topics related to intersections of mathematics and philosophy.

Three lecture streams

The lectures were divided into three different streams, all with their own workshops. The first lecture stream was on Conditional Sentences and Causal Reasoning, the second on Philosophy of Mathematics (with a particular focus on Gödel’s theorem), and the third on Paradoxes.

Throughout the first half of the week all participants followed introductory lectures to the three different streams. Following this introductory period, participants were then able to choose which lecture stream they wanted to follow for the rest of the week.  Schalkers decided to follow the lecture stream on Paradoxes with Dr. Roy Cook from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.

Supplementing these main lecture streams were guest lectures given on a wide variety of topics. AS a physics student, Schalkers mentions being particularly impressed by a lecture on the Philosophy of Phase Transitions.

Interdisciplinary advantage

During the summer school, Schalkers especially noted the benefit of having an interdisciplinary background. There were students studying in all different kinds of fields including philosophy, logic, mathematics and physics. Throughout the different lecture streams, basic knowledge of all of these fields were at some point expected.

Building a network

The summer school was designed to be intensive, consisting of full days, with lectures happening from 9.00 until 17.00. After this, the emphasis shifted to networking and building relationships with other women studying and working in various fields of philosophy or mathematics. This experience proved to be very meaningful for Schalkers, with her specifically mentioning how nice it was to “meet so many women who are interested in mathematical philosophy which is, even at AUC, a male-dominated area.” In this rather short time, she was able to build friendships, which she says she has maintained contact with even after the summer school had finished.

How to participate

In the summer of 2018, LMU will once again organise a Summer School on Mathematical Philosophy for Female Students. For more information, you can contact Dr. Sebastian de Haro.

Published by  Amsterdam University College