PROMYS Europe is closely modelled on PROMYS, its parent programme at Boston University. PROMYS Europe welcomed its first students to Oxford in the summer of 2015, and continued to run every summer since. In 2015, there were 12 first-year students, 4 returning students (see below for more about the CMI-PROMYS Scholars), and 5 counsellors. By 2019, this had expanded to 21 first-year students, 7 returning students, and 8 counsellors. In the first five years of PROMYS Europe, 111 people took part as students and/or counsellors, coming from 25 different European countries.
CMI-PROMYS Scholarships and the Oxford Masterclasses
The idea for PROMYS Europe took shape after the Clay Mathematics Institute (CMI) organized the CMI-PROMYS Oxford Workshop on The Development of Exceptional Talent in Mathematics at the University of Oxford in 2013. PROMYS and CMI invited to the workshop leading mathematicians engaged in developing the mathematical talent of secondary school students in Europe. There was a very fruitful exchange of ideas and pedagogical approaches. PROMYS founders, faculty and alumni presented their vision of extending to Europe the 6-week mathematical immersion programme that students experience at PROMYS; and directors of some of the leading European mathematics programmes for secondary school students presented the visions underpinning their programmes. PROMYS Europe seeks to work alongside these and other existing European programmes to augment the learning experiences available to talented young mathematicians in Europe.
In 2013 and 2014, the CMI-PROMYS International Alliance ran two pilot programmes: the CMI-PROMYS Scholarships, and the Oxford Masterclasses. Thanks in large part to the highly enthusiastic recruitment efforts of PROMYS alumni in Europe, applicant pools for the CMI-PROMYS Scholarships were large, eager, mathematically impressive, and from all over Europe. In 2013 and 2014, the Alliance provided scholarships to a total of 24 CMI-PROMYS Scholars from 11 European countries, carefully selected from hundreds of applications received from 30 European countries. At no cost to the students or their families, these Scholars participated in the six weeks of PROMYS at Boston University followed by the one-week Oxford Masterclasses at the University of Oxford. The Scholarship programme was very successful: the CMI-PROMYS Scholars were mathematically very strong, they really enjoyed their summers at PROMYS, and they learned a great deal both about mathematics and about new ways to learn mathematics.
In 2014, in addition to the new CMI-PROMYS Scholars, four of the 2013 CMI-PROMYS Scholars were invited to return to PROMYS and to the Oxford Masterclasses: three as returning students and one as a counsellor. Four of the CMI-PROMYS Scholars from 2014 went on to be returning students at the very first PROMYS Europe in 2015.
PROMYS at Boston University since 1989
Professor Glenn Stevens, the founder of PROMYS Europe is also a founder of PROMYS and has been its Director from its foundation in 1989. The mathematicians who founded PROMYS all remain members of its faculty and all were former participants in the Secondary Science Training Program (SST) founded in 1957 by Arnold Ross. The founders’ own experiences in SST provided them with a theoretical model for PROMYS from which the programme has evolved and blossomed. Arnold Ross himself was inspired by mathematical learning experiences in which he was immersed as a teenager in Russia.