United Nations Institute for Training and Research: Statistics, Knowledge and Policy - Understanding Societal Change

United Nations Institute for Training and Research


The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) is a training arm of the United Nations System, serving some 27 000 beneficiaries annually by conducting more than 400 capacity development and research activities around the world.  The mission of UNITAR is to deliver innovative training and conduct research on knowledge systems to develop capacities of beneficiaries in the fields of environment; peace, security and diplomacy; and governance.

UNITRA is conducting a five-day online course entitled ‘Statistics, Knowledge and Policy - Understanding Societal Change’ from 25 February to 29 March 2013.

We all know now that real progress of a society or nation goes beyond just the quantitative assessment of gross domestic product. Progress has different meanings across different societies and what is important in one society may wary across societies. In an intertwined and globalised world like ours, it is thus essential to undertake a holistic debate about these issues with a view to learning from each other and to improve the overall well-being of our societies in ways that we consider as important and relevant for us.

The underlying aim of the course, which has been developed in collaboration with the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), is to foster the development of sets of key economic, social and environmental indicators to provide a comprehensive picture of how the well-being of a society is evolving. This course and its online discussion forum will also act as a catalyst to encourage each participant to consider, in an informed way, the crucial questions: Is life getting better? Is our obsession with gross domestic product to measure progress of a society unhealthy and misleading? This course also seeks to encourage the use of indicator sets to inform and promote evidence-based decision-making, within and across the public, private and citizen sectors.

Last but not least, it is our hope that this course will create a greater awareness of the importance of statistics for democracy and democratic decision-making; provide measures of progress that go “beyond GDP”; bring forth tools to transform statistics into knowledge, evidence, civic engagement and policy making.

Learning Objectives

At the end of the course, the participants should be able to:

  • Recognise the role of statistics in the democratic decision making process;
  • Demonstrate that progress of societies can be measured beyond GDP;
  • Compare the meaning of 'well-being' across societies;
  • Describe the different ways to think about progress and to measure progress; and
  • Discuss how to turn statistics into knowledge.

Content and Structure

The course consists of the following four modules:

  • Module 1: General introduction to Measuring the Progress of Societies;
  • Module 2: What to measure: progress and its dimensions;
  • Module 3: How to measure progress; and
  • Module 4: Ensuring that measures are used.


In order to ensure the best possible outreach, the course will be delivered through e-learning. Through a multiple-instructional setting, the goal is to achieve the learning objectives by means of learning technologies that match personal learning styles and by the inclusion of non-linear learning that aims at the development of just-in-time skills of adult learners. At the same time, in order to allow participants maximum flexibility of scheduling, the learning will be conducted in an asynchronous manner. Using a state-of-the-art training architecture, UNITAR will combine self-learning with assessments and online discussions. The pedagogy - adapted specifically to professionals in full-time work - will help train participants through various experiences: absorb (read); do (activity); interact (socialise); reflect (relate to one’s own reality).
Targeted Audience

This course is aimed at all those who have an interest in increasing the use of evidence in public debate and policy making, either in the developed or developing world. The target audience will include:

  • Researchers (economists and statisticians) who want to learn methods to measure overall societal progress and its multiple dimensions;
  • Practitioners (from national and local governments, NGOs, etc.) who want to know how to implement progress initiatives;
  • Policy makers with an interest in developing, or using, sets of progress measures to improve decision making; and
  • Media and others who want to communicate information to citizens.

Additional Information

A certificate of completion will be issued to all participants who complete the course-related assignments and assessments successfully. Course schedule is subject to change. Course fee is non-refundable but transferrable to another course or participant and subject to change as per UNITAR's policy on pricing.

Cost: US$600

To register, refer to www.unitar.org/event/about-unitar-events#register.

For more information about the course, refer to www.unitar.org/event/statistics-knowledge-and-policy-understanding-societal-change-2013.

For more about the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, refer to www.unitar.org.

Event Start Date: 
Monday, 25 February, 2013
Event End Date: 
Friday, 29 March, 2013
Event Venue: 
Event Type: 

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