Chances are good, if you’re reading this page, that you’re already attracted to some aspect of mathematics. Maybe you enjoy using math to predict the trajectory of a ball you’ve hurled with your toy catapult, or playing games and being able to calculate the odds the dice will fall your way. It could be that logic puzzles are your thing – you’re good at deducing hidden facts from a limited set of clues – or that you appreciate the certainty that results from mathematical computation. Maybe you’ve just always been good at math.
At Bethel, we want to introduce you to the richness of the world of advanced mathematics. Along the way, you’ll have opportunities to learn about both applied and pure mathematics.
Applied mathematics is what people use to solve a particular type of problem or accomplish a specific task. You’ll learn about applications of calculus, uses of statistics and why linear algebra is the Swiss Army knife of mathematics.
But mathematics is much more than a tool – it’s a way of thinking and a discipline that deserves study for its own sake. Pure mathematics is the study of pattern and form; a world of abstract structures both finite and infinite; a land where logic rules and proof is the currency of the realm.
As a department, our mission is to help you learn to listen, read, write and speak mathematically and be able to communicate mathematical concepts to everyone, including those who aren’t comfortable with the language of math. We encourage you to seek opportunities to use the skills you learn to serve others, both professionally and in your community. To that end, our classes include a mix of both classical instruction (written problems to solve; board work during problem sessions) and more modern practices (computer labs using mathematical software).
All our math majors receive a solid foundation in calculus, linear algebra, discrete mathematics and computer programming. As a junior and senior, you’ll choose at least three electives in advanced math and conduct a research project that allows you to explore an area of mathematics new to you.
While we strive for excellence in the classroom, we also want our students to have fun. We have an active Math Club that meets to enjoy food, games and math in a relaxed social setting. Herman Bubbert – Bethel’s own pooka – is a Math Club member (though he hasn’t been seen recently).
Many of our majors pursue other interests while at Bethel, sometimes as a minor field of study and sometimes as a second major – something we encourage because it presents new opportunities for learning and service. Some of our majors go on to graduate study, others become professional math teachers and still others find their way into careers where you might not expect to find mathematicians (including medicine, pastoral ministry and social work).