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University of Michigan School of Information

Christopher Quarles

Christopher Quarles

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My work examines the relationship between technology and inequality. Humans are more informationally connected than any other time in history. While this has definite benefits, it also affects who our friends are, the things that we think about most, and even what we perceive is truth. My focus is on how this technology affects inequality, the transfer of human capital, and how we organize & group ourselves.

I am a PhD candidate at UMSI, a researcher at the Center for Ethics, Society & Computing, and an affiliate of the Stone Center for Inequality Dynamics. Previously, I was a community college math professor and change-maker. So I also know a lot about education, statistics, and change in institutions/social systems. I use quantitative and qualitative research methods, combined with solid, practical theory. I tend to look at the world with an eye towards inequality and what happens at the system level. As humans, we're drawn to simple stories, but the reality is almost always much more complex. Good decisions and policy require a focus on the big picture, rather than always chasing the latest social media controversy.

Areas of Interest

Technology & inequality
Social mobility
Social self-organization
Complex systems
Language & behavior


Master of Science - Mathematics, University of Washington
Bachelor of Science - Physics, University of Illinois


Cartoon drawing of two fists colliding. The fists are a compilation of many silhouetted faces overlapping to make the shape of the fists and arms.
Mentioning ‘white privilege’ increases online polarization

Doctoral students Christopher Quarles and Lia Bozarth investigated how the term "white privilege" affects communication. They found that the term elicits an emotional response with study participants.

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Christopher Quarles
New way to measure educational success: 'Student capital'

Researchers at the University of Michigan have come up with a new way to measure educational success by looking at the total effect of the many traits and abilities it takes for students to be successful in school. 

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