The United Nations System Staff College (UNSSC) was abuzz this month with the resumption of face-to-face classes for some of the Staff College’s learning offerings. The College’s Peace and Security Hub welcomed participants to the first ever in person edition of the “Integrated Data Analytics for Sustaining Peace Boot Camp” course which had been launched at the height of the pandemic in 2020 but had only been available in an online format till now.

The last two years have been especially tough for peace and security professionals who have faced difficulties in accessing online learning,” said Ginevra Cucinotta, the Learning Portfolio Manager responsible for the course, which attracted a diverse group of peace and security professionals from across the globe.

I am glad we could put together the resources and safety-measures needed to get people back in the classroom safely. The three-day schedule gave us an opportunity to exchange not only ideas about data analytics as they relate to peace and security and peace-building, but also an opportunity to gain greater insight into the different contexts in which peace and security professionals work,” Cucinotta said.

The three-day face-to-face edition was held from 17 May to 19 May, and included sessions on understanding integrated data analytics, data management, visualization and storytelling. Significantly, participants learned about UN data analytics integration initiatives and tools that are used in the UN system and relate to the peace and security pillar.  To foster innovation, and build problem-solving skills, participants took part in plenary discussions, group work and scenario-building exercises that took place in breakout group sessions.

“The facilitators did a wonderful job of integrating different topics from data collection, to data storage and data cleaning, said Nicole Manger, Policy Specialist & Lead Policy and Partnerships at the Federal Foreign Office Germany. “There was a huge storytelling component which was interesting, not only for data analysis but for professional presentation style. I also enjoyed looking into the ethical implications of data usage in fragile conflict settings. What I took away from the course is that we should pay more attention to local data anchorage, and really engage the people who are affected in conflict situations. Overall, the course was very comprehensive and interactive, and we had a lot of fun,” said Manger.

Reflecting on his key takeaways from the course,  Taweni Kalua, Peace and Development Officer at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Malawi said, “Before attending this course, my contribution to my country’s risk dashboard was minimal. Now, however, I can design new dashboards, and even contribute to existing dashboards. This is an important course for peace-builders like me. Our work involves conflict mapping and making recommendations. The course has taught me how to make recommendations that are informed by data.” 

Patrick Mc Carthy, Peace & Development Advisor at the Resident Coordinator Office in Gambia noted, “There are so many new tools to help us analyse large datasets and squeeze as much meaning out of them as we can. I think before coming to this course I was working at 15 per cent to 20 per cent of my capacity when it comes to analysing data. This course has allowed me to operate at a much higher level. Other peace and security professionals who are working on peace and conflict prevention around the world can certainly benefit from this course. It really allows us to understand how much data is hidden in large data sets, and gives us the tools that we need to be able to access that and get meaning to help us in our day-to-day analysis work.”

Svenja Korth Senior Manager of UNSSC’s Peace and Security Hub, said, “After two years of uncertainty and delivering learning online, I enjoyed watching peace and security professionals come together for in-person training again. Seeing people working together, challenging each other’s ideas, and later regrouping to explore the city, gave an immense sense of satisfaction.  The overall success of the course is a testament to the Peace and Security Hub’s commitment to thoughtfully designing a range of learning experiences that ensure that Peace and Security professionals continue to have access to a combination of in-person instruction and online learning opportunities,”

UNSSC’s Peace and Security Hub plans to deliver the next face-to-face edition of the “Integrated Data Analytics for Sustaining Peace Boot Camp” course this October in New York. To learn more and register click here.