Data and Critical Thinking

Every day we are all bombarded with information from social media, the news, and our social networks. All too often, what we hear is taken out of context, biased, incorrect, or just plain fake. How can you know when an argument for or against doing something is valid? How can you know what to conclude from some data? In a world in which sometimes everything seems uncertain, how can you learn to distinguish between more reliable and less reliable information? And how can you tell when you are being manipulated?
The Data & Critical Thinking Learning Community will help you answer these questions. Students gain skills and practice to confront this avalanche of data and argumentation, recognise biases in others and reduce your own, and ultimately become a better decision-maker and advocate. We live in an increasingly complex world where sometimes a position or policy that seems obviously good or bad, or likely to produce a certain desired result, ends up having the opposite effect from what its supporters wanted — learn how to avoid the trap of unintended consequences!
Learning Community Activities
Past Events
  • Cross-EUTOPIA student debate on climate change – When? February-March 2023 – Where? online – more information here.
  • Cross-EUTOPIA student debate on Data and Critical Thinking: Topic Societies Global Issues Climate, Veganism and AI (LC Data and Critical Thinking - second iteration of this event) March 2nd 2022

Within the context of the “Data and Critical Thinking” learning unit, the LC proposed three climate-change related topics to foster students’ debating skills: “To what extent is climate change driven by human activity?”, “To what extent does going vegan help reduce our carbon footprint?”, “What is the potential of the development or artificial intelligence in terms of carbon footprint reduction?”. Students across the partner institutions had a chance to debate online. The first round was triggered by the question “To what extent is climate change driven by human activity?”, where a team from the VUB had to defend the point that human activity has a big impact on climate change against a team from UoW. The second round tackled the question “To what extent does going vegan help reduce our carbon footprint?” with two cross-university (mixed teams CY -VUB -Warwick). During debates (45 min each), teams of students voiced their arguments using supportive data (figures, graphs, charts...), taken from various empirical studies to support and argue their claims. At the end of each debate, tailored feedback was provided by Matthieu Cisel (the co-lead at CY) to students regarding the quality of proposed arguments, supporting data, and  strategies  that  could  have  been  taken  to  refute  opposing  arguments.

  • More information about the call here, and short summary of the event here.
  • Cross-EUTOPIA student debate on Data and Critical Thinking – When? March 3rd 2021 – Where? online – more information here.
  • Cross-EUTOPIA participation in CY’s ‘Data and Critical Thinking’ MOOC – When? Autumn 2021 – Where? online - more information here.
How to get involved?

(Students and educators)
Contact the Learning Community lead: Matthieu Cisel ( or Tomy Quenet (

Learning Community Members
Lead: Matthieu Cisel (CY). Email:

Matthieu Cisel
Matthieu Cisel
Dr. Matthieu Cisel has a PhD in Education Data Mining. He teaches Statistics and Argumentation at CY Cergy Paris Université, and notably the Data and Critical Thinking Learning Unit.

Partner: Jan De Beule (VUB). Email:

Jan De Beule
Jan De Beule
Jan De Beule is an assistant professor at the VUB. His research and teaching duties are in discrete mathematics, with applications in data science.

Partner: Robert MacKay (UW). Email:

Robert MacKay
Robert MacKay
Robert MacKay is a Professor of Mathematics and Director of Mathematical Interdisciplinary Research at Warwick.  His main research interests are in the theory and application of dynamical systems.