Quant for What?: Dreaming Toward Quantitative Paradigms for Anti-Racist Transformation

City of Pittsburgh skyline from Mount Washington

Join us for a four-part, hybrid conference series from July through October 2022 that will center ethical approaches, liberatory methods, and anti-racist goals in quantitative research.

Titled, "Quant for What?: Dreaming Toward Quantitative Paradigms for Anti-Racist Transformation," the convening is offered by scholars at the University of Pittsburgh School of Education, Northwestern University, Elon University, and the American Institutes for Research with funding from the Spencer Foundation

Project Overview

"What shall we build on the ashes of a nightmare?” (Kelley, 2002, p.196)

The use and discourse of quantitative methods within education policy continues to be weaponized against BIPOC and other marginalized communities to justify their criminalization, displacement, and limited access to resources. In recent years, a subset of educational researchers has given renewed attention to centering ethical approaches and anti-racist goals in quantitative methods (Cokley & Awad, 2013; Gándara & Rutherford, 2020; Gillborn et al., 2018). Despite growing attention, critical quantitative inquiry remains at the margins of educational research, teaching, and learning. Centering liberatory methods will require us to (re)build structures and relationships . We aim to build on existing efforts to advance a model for working collectively across communities and sectors affecting and affected by colonizing research histories to transform quantitative methods in service to racial justice.

In this spirit, this conference is structured around three interconnected questions:

  1. What are our freedom dreams for liberatory quantitative methodologies?
  2. What do quantitative methods have to offer, as a theory of action, toward racial justice and transformation in education?
  3. How do we (re)imagine the ways we fund, teach, partner, and use quantitative research to achieve these ends? 

Conference Goals

Attuned to the multiple ways that race-evasive and inequitable quantitative methodologies are embedded throughout the educational system, this convening has three main goals: 

  1. (Un)learning (and refusing) the deep connections between racial (in)equity central to mainstream approaches to teaching and conducting quantitative research
  2. Healing from traumas created and inflicted by those current ways of doing and teaching quantitative methodologies
  3. Dreaming beyond what quantitative methods, teaching, and community-grounded research look like today to identify action steps toward a liberatory research paradigm.

Application Details

We aim to build a collective community of early-career, interdisciplinary folx across academia, philanthropy, public policy, and community based organizations who employ quantitative methods and have a critical disposition in both their being and work.

Because there are a limited number of spots available for these convenings, we ask that folx complete an application. Please click the application link to complete your application.

** Applications are now closed **

Along with some background questions, we ask you to share a CV/resume and brief (< 200 word) responses (written or any other medium) to the following prompts:

  1. Values: When considering the work that you engage with towards racial justice and transformation in education, what values drive your actions?
  2. Community: How do you engage in community in your work towards racial justice and transformation in education?
  3. Actions and Decisions: What are the ways that you work towards racial justice and transformation in education? Please consider a full range of actions you engage in, direct and indirect and at varying proximities from your goals.

Conference Dates

The convening will take place over four months (July - October 2022).The first three sessions will occur virtually and the final, culminating session will bring the collective together in Pittsburgh for an in-person session. 

Friday, July 29, 2022

Convening Day #1 - Unlearning to (Re)member 

Friday, July 29, 2022
11 a.m. - 3 p.m. ET (8 - 11 a.m. PT)
Virtual Session

Purpose: The first convening will bring together a multi-sector collective to engage in a deep bodymindspirit work of unlearning (decolonizing ourselves) the ways we have come to know, experience, and use quantitative methods that perpetuate white logics. In journeying back to the past, collective members will begin to unlearn philosophies of science, listening with and to communities of color, and healing traumas sustained by quantitative methods. In addition to unlearning, this session provides space for collective (re)membering of the ways quantitative methods can be used as a tool to liberate folx of color. (Re)membering is a process that comes from the West African word Sankofa, which requires that we learn from the past in order to build the future (Dillard, 2012).   

Friday, August 12, 2022

Convening Day #2 - Critical Application of Quantitative Methods 

Friday, August 12, 2022
11 a.m. - 3 p.m. ET (8 - 11 a.m. PT)
Virtual Session

Purpose: The second convening brings together quantitative education researchers, funders, policymakers, and students to discuss how norms in scientific practice have (or have not) limited their capacities to fund, conduct, and make use of critical quantitative methods and research. Using tools and campaign planning strategies developed by abolitionist organizers, participants will move from envisioning a new critical quantitative research paradigm to developing strategies for making this paradigm a reality.

Friday, August 26, 2022

Convening Day #3 - Critical Teaching of Quantitative Methods 

Friday, August 26, 2022
11 a.m.- 3 p.m. ET (8 - 11 a.m. PT)
Virtual Session

Purpose: We cannot change a research practice or enterprise without changing the way we teach and train students on quantitative methods. To that end, the third convening will bring together participants who train (future) researchers on quantitative methods, whether in or outside of academia, to question the perspectives that inform the design of quantitative methods courses and build anew.

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Convening Day #4 - Building with and for Community 

Saturday, October 22, 2022
In-Person Session in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Details TBA

Purpose: The final convening will bring the collective together in Pittsburgh for a day of reflection, action, and celebration. To paraphrase Robin Kelley, “unless we have the space to imagine and a vision of what it means fully to  realize our humanity, all the [convening] in the world won’t bring about our liberation” (Kelley, 2002, p. 198). To that end, Day 4 will encourage participants to reflect on where they have been over the course of the convening and where they would like to go, but will make space for participants to take direct action on those reflections by participating in working sessions to support research with youth scholars based in Pittsburgh or to help funders incorporate criticality into their mission statements, requests for proposals, and more. 

Organizing Team

Shanyce L. CampbellPhD, is an Assistant Professor of Urban Education and Quantitative Methods at the University of Pittsburgh. She uses mixed methods, quantitative and qualitative methods to study how policies and practices influence access to quality learning opportunities for students of color. Contact Shanyce at shanycecampbell@pitt.edu.

Heather McCambly, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Critical Higher Education Policy at the University of Pittsburgh. She uses qualitative and quantitative methods to study the role of organizations in (re)producing systemic, racial inequalities. She does this work with a commitment to producing knowledge that can help us, collectively, build alternative pathways toward just futures for Black, brown, indigenous, and low-income students and institutions over time. Contact Heather at mccambly@pitt.edu.

Sarah Peko-Spicer, PhD, is a Researcher at the American Institutes for Research where she develops methodological strategy for program evaluations and evidence syntheses. She is a meta-scientist who studies how quantitative research practices have been shaped by white supremacy, how quantitative methods can be repurposed for racial justice, and what opportunities exist to infuse quantitative research with criticality and collectivity. Contact Sarah at speko-spicer@air.org.

Claire Mackevicius thinks about how power & policy influence hidden sources of funds especially in educational spaces, and how this entrenches socially constructed hierarchies. She also considers pathways navigating towards more equitable resource distribution. Contact Claire at cmackevicius@u.northwestern.edu.

Cora Wigger, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Economics Department at Elon University. Her research focuses on the intersections between education and housing, particularly how education policy decisions shape housing markets and communities. Cora is a teacher of statistics and quantitative methods, committed to bringing anti-racism and inclusivity to the teaching, learning, and application of quantitative methods. Contact Cora at cjlwig@gmail.com.

Sebastian Castrechini is a PhD candidate in Human Development and Social Policy at Northwestern University. He is a mixed-methods researcher whose work focuses on the intersections between racial diversity, youth development, and organizational contexts. His current work is an ethnographic study of organizational cultures and ethnic-racial identity within a high school urban debate league. Contact Sebastian at scastrechini@u.northwestern.edu.

Funding Support

The project team is grateful for the generous support of the Spencer Foundation. The foundation supports projects that examine critical issues in advancing racial equity and innovative methods.

Contact Us

For questions or more information, contact Sebastian Castrechini at scastrechini@u.northwestern.edu.