Research Opportunity: Centennial volume for the International Mathematical Union

Tom Archibald's picture
August 1, 2019
Subject Fields: 
History of Science, Medicine, and Technology

International Mathematical Union
An invitation to write a monograph on the occasion of the centennial of the International Mathematical Union

The International Mathematical Union (IMU) is one of the oldest international scientific unions. An incentive for establishing an international union for mathematics was to formalize the organization of the International Congresses of Mathematicians that had started as early as 1897 with a congress in Zurich. World War I disrupted the plans for an international mathematical union, but after the war, mathematicians met with the intent to create just such a union. The first steps were taken at the founding meeting of the International Research Council (IRC – a precursor of the International Science Council, the ISC) in Brussels in 1919.
The inauguration of the IMU was at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Strasbourg in 1920. According to O. Lehto1
Yet there is good reason to say that the International Mathematical Union was founded in Strasbourg, on 20 September 1920.
This gives an occasion to celebrate the centennial of the IMU in 2020.

The purpose of the monograph is to put the IMU in a grander framework of international scientific unions, and the internationalization of science and mathematics in particular. What was the impact of the world events through the 20th century on international science? In the beginning of the 20th century mathematicians were mostly men recruited from the elite in Europe and North America – what has been the impact of the changes we have seen?
It is not to be a book on the history of 20th century mathematics, nor on the inner life of the IMU. There are already books about various aspects of the history of 20th century mathematics and O. Lehto’s book gives an excellent presentation of the inner life of the IMU.
The book by F. Greenaway describes the history of the International Science Council through its precursors, the IRC and ICSU.
The piece should be a monograph written in English for an international market. Ideal candidates are historians of science with an interest in mathematics.
This project is generously funded by the Klaus Tschira Stiftung3 in Heidelberg, Germany.

Book requirements
Size: 200-300 pages, including illustrations, bibliography, and index
Language: English
Intended audience: Mathematicians, historians of science, and scientists in general, who are
interested in the history of science on an international level during the previous century. It
should also be of interest to the scientifically inclined general public.
Published: By an internationally recognized publisher, both as a print book and e-book,
preferably with Open Access. The IMU together with the author will negotiate with an
appropriate publisher.
The honorarium is a grand total of EUR 60,000.00. The author is responsible for paying all
taxes and additional fees from this amount.
In addition, the IMU will cover necessary travel and accommodation expenses in order to visit
archives, etc, related to this project. The IMU will also cover necessary copy-editing of the
manuscript prior to publishing, and expenses to acquire copyrights for illustrations. Any
additional expenses require prior approval by the IMU.
The honorarium will be paid in three equal installments, namely (i) at the time of signing the
contract, (ii) when the manuscript is complete, and (iii) when the book is published.
Work plan
The manuscript should be completed by 31 December 2020.
The author will be given unrestricted access to the IMU Archive except for material
embargoed according to the Archiving Guidelines of the IMU. The IMU Archive is located in
Berlin, Germany. The author is responsible for collecting and securing the copyrights for the
illustrations in the book.
The author should interact regularly with an advisory committee appointed by the IMU.
To submit a bid
A successful bid should contain the following:
1. A complete CV of the author;
2. A description of the author’s background and competence in the subject matter;
3. Samples of relevant texts in English by the author;
4. A detailed synopsis of the content of the proposed book;
5. A budget for necessary expenses;
6. A time schedule for the work.
Please submit your bid (in pdf) by email to Secretary General Helge Holden at The deadline for submitting bids is 1 August 2019.
On the International Mathematical Union (IMU)4
The IMU is an international non-governmental and non-profit scientific organization. IMU's
objectives are:
• To promote international cooperation in mathematics.
• To support and assist the International Congress of Mathematicians and other international
scientific meetings or conferences.
• To encourage and support other international mathematical activities considered likely to
contribute to the development of mathematical science in any of its aspects, pure, applied, or
The IMU currently has 88 member countries around the world. The IMU is a member of the
International Science Council5. The IMU Secretariat is located in Berlin, Germany.

Contact Info: 

Prof. Helge Holden, Secretary General of the International Mathematical Union

Contact Email: