Analytics for a Better World Courses at the University of Amsterdam
Bridging Analytics and Education for a Better World
On Monday, September 11th, two Analytics for a Better World courses officially started at the University of Amsterdam, as part of the Economics and Business Bachelor and Master programs. Throughout 8-weeks, 250 students from the University of Amsterdam learned about the relevance of analytics and its implementation for the improvement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
In the ever-evolving landscape of academia, certain courses stand out not just for their academic rigor but for their profound impact on shaping a better future. At the University of Amsterdam, the ‘Analytics for a Better World’ (ABW) courses are leading the change in merging education with real-world application for societal good.
On Monday, September 11th, two Analytics for a Better World courses officially started at the University of Amsterdam, as part of the Economics and Business Bachelor and Master programs. Throughout 8-weeks, 250 students from the University of Amsterdam learned about the relevance of analytics and its implementation for the improvement of the Sustainable Development Goals. The courses were led by Prof. Dick den Hertog and Prof. Joaquim Gromicho, with the support of three teaching assistants, Britt van Veggel, Justin Starreveld, and Erdinç Durak.
Introducing the Idea of a ABW University Course
The bachelor program was created three years ago when the University of Amsterdam accreditation committee was looking for an analytics course, integrating all elements and techniques of analytics and simultaneously apply it to real-life cases. At that time, Prof. den Hertog was already involved in the Analytics for a Better World’s projects on analytics implementation. Thanks to this combination, the Bachelor’s course was created, followed by the Master’s course a year later.
At both levels, the courses are offered in the first semester, so to give a comprehensive view of the topic, although at different levels, as well as to allow to understand if they took the right decision. On the difference between the courses, Prof. Gromicho explained that the Bachelor’s program aims to explore analytics in wide sense, providing basic analytics knowledge, as well as business analytics implementation and computer skills. The Master’s course builds upon that by going into the depth of all the topics, mostly focusing on advanced optimization techniques, such as dealing with uncertainty. Both courses use Analytics for a Better World cases, applied to the level of the course.
Bachelor’s Program: Introduction to Business Analytics
The Bachelor’s course, “Analytics for a Better World,” introduces fundamental analytics techniques, and shows societal impact applications. Through weekly assignment and a final project, this hands-on course equips students with essential skills to analyze and process data independently, emphasizing the practical application of analytics for societal progress.
I feel extremely proud of being able to tell about applications of analytics that are so impactful, I’m contributing to things that really help the world
Master’s Program: Advanced Analytics for a Better World
The Master’s course, “Advanced Analytics for a Better World” delves deeper into advanced optimization and machine learning techniques. Through collaborative projects with organizations such as the World Food Programme and the World Bank, students tackle complex real-world problems, optimizing supply chains and healthcare facilities to contribute significantly to global welfare. This course is taught by Prof. Dick den Hertog and Prof. Joaquim Gromicho and supported by Ph.D student Britt van Veggel who highly enjoyed teaching the course because of “the idea of possibly inspiring others to use their knowledge to help others”.
The current generation, gen z, is really focused on purpose and meaning, and with this we can really motivate them to continue this development.
– Prof. Den Hertog
Why Analytics for Social Impact
This generation of students is highly focused on purpose and meaning, as Prof. den Hertog emphasized: “with this, we can really motivate them to continue the development”. More and more people are needed every day to contribute to a better world, and it is crucial to educate students early about the tangible implementations of analytics. “We can reach more if we create the next generation of motivated professionals.”, said Prof. Gromicho.
When asked what their favorite aspect of being part of these courses is, both professors mention the inspiration of young people: “There are many ways the students surprise me”, says Prof. Gromicho, “I feel happy that I inspire the students, but most of all I feel extremely proud of being able to tell about applications of analytics that are so impactful, I’m contributing to things that really help the world”.
The success of the courses was also possible thanks to the teaching assistants, who allowed everything to go smoothly, and supported both students and professors during the semester. “Teaching is so fun, and the idea of possibly inspiring others to use their knowledge to help others makes it even better”, says Britt van Veggel, Ph.D student at the University of Amsterdam. Her opinion is also shared by other Ph.D student Erdinç Durak “The possibility that my students might apply what they have learned in this course to benefit people and societies in real life always motivates and excites me to teach this course”. Similarly, Ph.D student Justin Starreveld appreciates his contribution to a course where “the goal is not only to educate, but also to inspire the students”.
Both courses have high attendance rates, reflecting the fact that the students truly enjoy the course and feel the value of being there.
The success and enthusiasm surrounding these courses have paved the way for future endeavors. With high interest in thesis projects and internship requests, the professors are already working on a textbook compiling knowledge and real-life cases. Moreover, they envision continued growth and wider engagement, aiming to expand the program’s impact within local Dutch students, while still keeping the international feel of the course.
The “Analytics for a Better World” courses at the University of Amsterdam stand as a testament to the transformative power of education and its application in addressing global challenges. As these courses continue to evolve, they not only equip students with essential skills but also instill the values and motivation needed to foster a generation of change-makers, dedicated to making a difference in the world.