The Rockefeller Foundation and Centers of Mathematics: Richard Courant from the University of Göttingen to New York University

Jan 01, 2012 | by
  • Description

As a doctoral candidate in the History and Sociology of Science Department at the University of Pennsylvania, my research has focused on the cultural history of the American mathematics community in the twentieth century. My dissertation considers New York University's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences as its central case study, through which I analyze the career of its founder, the German Jewish émigré Richard Courant (1888-1972), and the institute in which it was modeled after, the Mathematical Institute at the University of Göttingen. Richard Courant was the director of the Göttingen Mathematical Institute when he was dismissed by the Nazi government in 1933; prior to this time, he had overseen the construction of the Göttingen Mathematical Institute's new building funded largely by the Rockefeller Foundation (RF). The RF later supported Courant as a refugee scholar at Cambridge University in 1933, then as an émigré in his placement with New York University in 1934, and throughout the following decade with grants supporting his expository mathematics publications and the development of New York University's (NYU) mathematics graduate program.