The MƒA Thursday Think Speaker Series brings accomplished speakers who dive into cutting-edge topics in STEM education to MƒA. These talks, held once a month throughout the school year, invite MƒA teachers and the general public to learn and engage with these thought leaders and professionals in mathematics, science, and education.
Civil rights pioneer Ida B. Wells famously said, "the way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them." Data science can provide this powerful light of truth. In this talk, Dr. Chad Topaz will present first-hand accounts of data-fueled racial justice efforts in the criminal justice system. Prompted by the disturbing discovery that a small-town Massachusetts police department had a photo of Hitler brazenly displayed, Dr. Topaz will delve into their data to shed light on their operations. He will then examine the spectrum of sentencing in federal district courts, culminating with a deep dive into events at New York City’s Rikers Island jail. Along the way, Dr. Topaz will emphasize the positive impact data tools and data transparency can have for championing justice, from developing data toolkits that empower communities to lobbying policy makers for change.