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Good afternoon, colleagues!

We are now preparing to launch a new training program, which will be designed for government managers and policy makers whose competencies will include managing big data. The problem is that the courses for them should be without mathematics and programming, because the target group of applicants are humanities.

After some thought, we came to the conclusion that it makes sense for us to develop four subjects: data science, decision support systems, data mining, and big data management infrastructure. We already had work on all of these subjects, but there's a lot of math involved.

Basically, one could focus on what a manager can use (including some useful applied tools), how it all works in general terms, and the methods of rational thinking, critical thinking and decision-making (including those based on big data, the modern philosophy of causality - by Judah Perle, for example).

What experience do you have in teaching these kinds of programs, what advice do you have for this kind of audience? Perhaps there are some recognized courses already that we don't know about so we don't have to reinvent the wheel?

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    $\begingroup$ Doing this without maths is like teaching illiterate people a new language. It'll take more time than otherwise necessary, for adults at least. I'd argue that government managers and policy makers without at least high-school level math skills are not fit for the job, but I know that's the sad reality of the world we live in. I'm not sure what would be a satisfying answer to your question: such audiences are a handicap to themselves... :( "Managing" big data: what does it mean? How do you "manage" data? Like, work with it? Use the analysis results? ... $\endgroup$ May 29, 2023 at 20:01

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There's quite some ambiguity about what "managing big data" means, especially once you must avoid both mathematics and programming.

It's rather like setting up a program for financial management, that mustn't mention accountancy!

I also think you'd be patronising your audience when attempting to teach them "rational thinking, critical thinking, and decision-making".

If you attempted to launch a very high-level philosophical programme, my fear would be that the substance of the curriculum, the materials available in the form of textbooks and published works, the length of time available on the course, and your academic credentials or industry reputation, would not be sufficient to support it.

If such philosophical programmes useful to management were widely available and at a high quality, practitioners who do understand programming would already be snapping your hand off for it, before you even get to humanities graduates who don't want to understand the basic details of data processing, and yet somehow end up in charge of it.

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  • $\begingroup$ About high-level philosophical programs - it is not quite clear what this is about and what it means. It would be better to write what there is in this kind of spirit at all. It should be said, by the way, that managers who do not have these IT courses have a course on decision making theory. And these particular state managers had it removed, so we need to give something of it anyway. It was removed just to put in its place a course about decision support systems, and so on. $\endgroup$
    – paus
    Jun 6, 2023 at 15:10
  • $\begingroup$ "the length of time available on the course, and your academic credentials or industry reputation, would not be sufficient to support it." - I know about some courses foir similar bachelor's degree for government officials at Oxford based on the philosophy of Aristotle and Spinoza. People from there then transfer into a ministerial positions in GB: ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/courses/course-listing/… This Oxford program is considered to be the strongest philosophical program in the world for management training $\endgroup$
    – paus
    Jun 6, 2023 at 15:14

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