Official statistics are not boring - UN expert lectured FEA students

Professor Steve MacFeely, an expert in official statistics at the MU Faculty of Economics and Administration, presented the challenges that global institutions face in the age of big data and stressed the need for economists to be statistically literate.

22 Apr 2022 Maria Králová

From 11 to 14 April 2022, UN expert Steve MacFeely visited Faculty of Economics and Administration MU and shared his experience and vision in three lectures related to the data and statistical challenges of the 21st century.

Prof. Feely is currently the Director of Data and Analytics WHO. He worked also as the Chief Statistician of UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) within the UN, so he has extensive experience with the economic and trade cooperation agenda, particularly from the perspective of official statistics. He is also Co-chair of the Committee of the Chief Statisticians of the United Nations System, allied with the Chief Statisticians of the World Bank, Eurostat, OECD, IMF, and other international institutions (Coordination Committee of Statistical Activities). With the support of the UN Secretary-General, he coordinates the constitution of the Global Data Convention.

His experience with official statistics, his insight into global thinking and his reflection on the challenges in data science have enriched the lectures of both "Statistics 2" and "Quantitative Methods for Decision Making". In the Statistics 2 lecture, he talked about the demand for graduates of business schools with high statistical literacy. He emphasized competencies and skills for conceptual work, which in the age of big data requires combining knowledge of economics, statistics, technology, as well as an understanding of ethical principles or social issues.

In his lecture in Quantitative Methods for Decision Making class, he used the example of developing economies of small islands to demonstrate the challenges that official statisticians face - for example, in setting classification criteria. Even seemingly trivial concepts such as "island", "small", or "developing" do not lead to a clear classification and the development aid that is attached to it.

Prof. Feely's last lecture addressed whether the "Data Revolution" is just an empty phrase or whether we are really experiencing a data revolution and what it means for our lives.

Steve MacFeely's erudition, as well as his ability to engage with official statistics, provided students with the necessary insight to expand the college's core curriculum of statistics courses.

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