Math or statistics?

Given that my university is beginning a campus-wide program of quantitative scholarship, I find the discussion of "math or stats" going on over at Phi Beta Cons to be particularly interesting:

I’m not sure that the choice is a simple Either-Or.  Part of the problem seems to be a shortage of mathematicians who can teach applications of the Mathematical Good Stuff at a freshman level, coupled with a corresponding strong cadre of statisticians who have taught Basic Stats so often they could burst into lecture on a subway. 

I taught a "math literacy" course for two semesters, one which discussed a variety of applications: fair division algorithms (economics), voting (political science), graphs and critical paths (management science), and, yes, sampling and estimation (statistics).  This was a tough course to teach; I had to do a lot of outside reading of my own, de-jargonize the ideas, tie the applications to realistic problems, and teach the students to do a lot of calculation that didn’t fit too well into their calculators.  The students loved the course!  But it’s a tough sell, competing with the classic math and stats survey courses, and it doesn’t fit well into the existing math or stats compartments.  I’m biding my time, until I have the opportunity to resurrect this course as a liberal arts elective in management science.

Meanwhile, Dilbert suggests we Math Geeks just ignore the Quantitatively Challenged:


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