From Common Sense to Good Sense

October 1, 2013

in Statistics2013 Blog

By Banco Santander Brasil

Beatriz Guarezi used her car five times a week to travel to and from college. She also used it on the weekend to hang out with her friends. She had never stopped to think how much this habit—part of her daily routine—affected the environment.

That changed when Professor Eduardo Jara asked her and classmates at the Statistical Analysis class in the management program at the Universidade do Estado de Santa Catarina (UDESC), Florianópolis, Brasil, to create a statistical analysis of situations of their daily lives. The idea was to measure the effects of these daily actions on the planet.

“The sustainability issue is widely discussed qualitatively. It’s just that, as a professor of statistics, I felt there was a lack of in terms of quantification. Everyone knows that they produce a lot of garbage, but they do not know how many kilos we are talking about. They do not know if their pattern of consumption is higher or lower than average,” said Jara.

With direction from her professor, Guarezi calculated the distance between her house and the university and calculated how many kilometers she travelled per month. She also determined the approximate carbon dioxide emissions from her car. Then, she began to consider how she might reduce that amount without any radical changes.

“I wanted to think of something I could really start doing. I decided to get a ride to school two days a week and to pick one weekend day to use the car. This alone could reduce my emissions by 40%,” she says.

Professor Jara’s main objective was to teach the basic concepts of statistics to break the common-sense barrier. He wanted students to understand the actual quantities involved in their study subjects and therefore proposed statistical work related to something that directly affected their daily lives.

infographic RESIZED

With this activity, students could see a practical application of statistics: it is an important tool to construct an argument and map actions that are necessary for problem-solving and process improvement. “That’s what makes room for good sense. With the real dimensions of environmental impacts, we can propose concrete actions to make our indicators more consistent with a greener model of living,” he adds.
Jara’s proposal was so successful that it was one of the winners of the 2012Santander Educational Practices for Sustainability cultural contest, which honored the teachers who best introduced the topic of sustainability into compulsory coursework in Economics and Business Management courses. Click here to learn more about the contest.

Additionally, Jara plans to compile the students’ research into a book, which will include environmental statistics and ideas to manage these problems.

“The initiative by Professor Eduardo was relevant for the entire community. There are innumerable consequences for this innovative proposal and even better, it can be used by any organization wishing to quantify the environmental impacts of its daily activities,” says the dean of UDESC, Antonio Heronaldo de Sousa, noting that the university supports the professor’s plan to reproduce this work in the coming semesters.

Banco Santander Brasil is a subsidiary of Banco Santander and is the country’s fifth largest commercial bank by assets.