Prof wants 'social justice content' in math books

The professor tweeted that he would only join the editorial board for a math book series to "advance social justice."

A Williams College professor has proposed adding "social justice content" to math books.

A William’s College professor said he would advocate for social justice to be included in mathematics textbooks. 

Chad Topaz, a self-described “social-justice-oriented” professor of applied math and data science, posted a tweet in January, which read, “I MIGHT be offered to join an editorial board of a particular math book series. If so, I’d accept only to advance #socialjustice. What are your best ideas for how? Free texts? Social justice content? Required 'inclusive learning' component of book proposal? Go nuts…” 

There were suggestions in the ensuing comments.

[RELATED: Calif. math prof applicants better have 'diversity contributions' on their resumes]

One user commented, “Free, or as cheaply priced as possible, books. For many of my students, especially minority students, the ballooning cost of textbooks is a hurdle…Another thing would be to ensure that word problems are more inclusive. E.g. the stats textbook I’m using for the upcoming semester has multiple problems with sexist or racist assumptions/framings.”

Another user replied, “Does the board look for ways to diversify its authors? Could you advocate in that area?” 

Topaz responded, saying, “I will definitely be bringing that up too. Including saying 'here are some people to consider in addition to or, honestly, instead of me.’”

[RELATED: Michigan college drops math, considers diversity course instead]

Topaz’s personal website publicizes him as a scholar/speaker in data science, applied mathematics, and social justice. He is also the creator and founder of the Qside, the Institute for the Quantitative Study of Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity. 

Campus Reform reached out to Chad Topaz as well as William’s College but did not receive a response in time for publication. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @carolinefshaver