Wrapping up 2020 with social justice

Chad M. Topaz
3 min readDec 2, 2020

At the Institute for the Quantitative Study of Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (QSIDE), we use the vanguard of math, data science, and computation to promote social justice. We became an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit organization in 2019, which makes 2020 our first full year of operation. As the year wraps up, we need your help.

Why should you help us? Because we are making a difference. With the collaboration of scores of fabulous partners and interns, here is merely a sampling of what we accomplished in 2020.

(1) Exposed the ways that privileged white male power tries to protect itself in STEM. This work was covered in the journal Science.

(2) Got featured in the most widely-read mathematics publication in the world.

(3) Conducted a first-of-its-kind initiative to unmask the names of federal judges who give criminal sentences, thereby creating a massive public database that enables the analysis of potential judge bias based on race/ethnicity. Here’s an interactive data explorer that lets you look up judges to learn about their sentencing habits. This work was covered in a high-profile legal blog, the Volokh Conspiracy.

(4) Created a predictive model of undergraduate student body demographics at public colleges/universities. The model can be used to assess strategies for diversifying a campus, including but not limited to affirmative action. Here is an interactive web app that you can use to ask/answer questions for yourself (using the University of California-Berkeley as a case study).

(5) Had our work on data, diversity, and art featured in a flagship applied math news source.

(6) Launched an institutional consortial membership program that confers numerous benefits and, most importantly, that helps build social justice efforts.

(7) Trained 21 student QSIDE Fellows who worked on numerous projects/initiatives.

(8) Launched a public colloquium series featuring dynamic speakers who educate on a variety of social justice related topics.

(9) Planned a workshop entitled Mathematical and Computational Approaches to Social Justice, to take place in March, 2021.

This is truly just a sampling of what we did in 2020. As for the future, in 2021, we will: continue with over a dozen research projects spanning criminal justice, the arts, higher education, health care, and the environment; run our first Data4Justice conference in April, 2021; expand our colloquium and consortium programs; train new QSIDE fellows; and much more.

Now you ask, how are we doing all of this? My answer is: on a shoestring.

It is not easy. We are an edgy nonprofit working in a nontraditional, interdisciplinary space. It takes money to support our Fellows, to engage speakers, to obtain data for our studies, to pay publication fees for our research, and more. To say nothing of organizational infrastructure and growth.

So here’s my ask: As you consider end-of-year giving, please donate to QSIDE. For instance, I have a few thousand followers on social media. If half of you (ambitious, I know!) gave $5, it would fund a semester cohort of QSIDE Fellows.

In fact, the more you can give, the bigger an impact it will have on what QSIDE is able to accomplish with our research-to-action approach, all in pursuit of a more just world.



Chad M. Topaz

Data Scientist | Social Justice Activist | Professor | Speaker | Nonprofit Leader