No Small Feat: Students Tackle Sustainable Development on a Global Scale

April 9, 2024 by Kal Romain

Yesterday, April 8, the STA130 Poster Fair occurred at the University of Toronto, marking another successful showcase of statistical innovation by students focused on sustainable development. Under the expert guidance of Professors Nathalie Moon and Josh Speagle, students tackled an array of projects poised to address urgent global challenges through the power of data.

Bahen Centre for Informational Technology is crowded with students eager to share their hard work. Photo credit: Aaliyah St. George.

"Sustainable development is more than a concept; it's a call to action, and statistics is a vital tool in that endeavour," stated Professor Moon. "The diversity of the projects our students have undertaken is remarkable, and it's rewarding to see their data-driven insights potentially contribute to global environmental sustainability."


This semester's projects are a product of The Sandbox initiative, part of the Faculty of Arts & Science's Experiential Learning & Outreach Support (ELOS). The Sandbox challenges students from multiple fields—Psychology, Computer Science, Ethics, and Statistics—to utilize their academic expertise to forge solutions for real-world problems.


Professor Speagle expressed pride in his students' achievements: "Witnessing our students harness statistics to forge insights that might one-day shape policy is incredibly fulfilling. It epitomizes the potential for academic work to transcend the classroom and effect tangible change."

Student passionately shares his methodology with peers. Photo credit: Aaliyah St. George

The fair provided a dual platform: a stage for students to shine academically and an exploratory ground for integrating The Sandbox's real-world data projects into the wider curriculum. Following last semester's use of AI to bolster UNICEF's efforts in predicting global conflicts, this term's focus has pivoted to sustainable development. Students were immersed in complex datasets, analysing the strides nations are making toward Sustainable Development Goals as the 2030 deadline approaches.

A heartfelt commendation is due to Neha Babar, Undergraduate Instructional Administrator, and the undergraduate administrative team, whose dedication made the fair possible and a resounding success.