A New Unified Mathematical Society



A brief history of the discussions between the LMS and IMA

The Presidents, Executive Secretaries and senior Honorary Officers of the two societies have met together since the late 1990s to discuss matter of mutual concern.  This Joint Working Group has shared information and concerns, issued joint statements, initiated joint activities (such as the David Crighton and Christopher Zeeman Medals) and generally attempted to ensure that the two societies worked effectively across areas of shared interest, such as education, HE etc.

In 2003 the Joint Working Group proposed that there should be a review of the relationship between the two societies, and to explore alternative future models.  That led to the Frameworks Study Initiative (FSI) which looked at three generic models: (a) continuation of the current model of collaboration, (b) structured and shared collaboration but under two Councils, and (c) a merger to form a single society operating under a single Charter and Council.

The FSI was the subject of a consultation of members in 2005 – the FSI Consultation Report is available on this website.

The response to the consultation was good, with many comments received by letter, email or at a series of meetings held across the UK.  The comments addressed many issues across the various models described, with the pluses and minuses extensively debated.  There was, however, a clear majority of responses that supported the concept of exploring more fully the outcomes and practicalities of merging the societies to form a single, unified society for mathematics.

Accordingly, in the summer of 2006, the two Councils established the Next Steps Initiative (NSI) and asked a Joint Planning Group (JPG) to examine and draw up a report that would examine in more detail the benefits of a single society and how the concerns raised in the FSI consultation about such a model might be tackled, and produce a ‘blueprint’ for a single society.  The following objectives for the activities of a unified organisation were to be observed in the preparation of the plans.

  1. To maintain and enhance support for mathematical research, by making grants and by other means.
  2. To recognize and support the professional status and activities of mathematicians working in all sectors of employment. 
  3. To speak as a national voice on behalf of mathematics.
  4. To represent the UK in the international mathematical community, building on the existing reputations of the two organisations.

The JPG issued reports on its work on a regular basis via the two societies’ newsletters.  It brought a first draft report to the March 2008 meetings of the two Councils, and comments made by the Councils were then be taken away by the JPG and incorporated into a final draft brought back to the June (IMA) and July (LMS) Council meetings.

In June 2008 the two Councils adopted the report and agreed to commend the proposals to their memberships as preserving the best of both the current societies and providing real opportunities for increasing the scope, scale and effectiveness of all activities in the support and promotion of mathematics.

The Report has been circulated to all members for consultation, and mechanisms put in place (see details on this site) to enable members to comment and seek clarification on the proposals.