Reinventing the Policy Ph.D.

The Pardee RAND Redesign

Complexity: The Impetus for Change

The world has fundamentally changed since Pardee RAND Graduate School was founded in 1970.

Problems are increasingly more complex. The policymaking environment is dramatically different. And technology is changing everything.

These challenges demand a rethinking of public policy and policy analysis. Pardee RAND has reimagined the future of public policy problem solving and is taking a new approach to public policy education.

Defining, and Redefining, Policy Analysis

Pardee RAND began a redesign initiative in 2015 that will position the school to continually adapt in our ever-changing world. We began with a simple yet profound question: If we could build a public policy Ph.D. program from the ground up, what would it look like?

The school was created with the explicit goal of taking RAND’s systems analysis methods and perspective — developed for military use — and extending them to civil issues such as education, health, and urban planning.

For nearly 50 years we have offered an exceptional, rigorous Ph.D. program in policy analysis, and because we exist outside a traditional university, we are small and agile. We can develop new perspectives, new analytic tools and methods, new understanding and leveraging of technology, and new ways of thinking.

But just as systems analysis needed to become policy analysis, policy analysis itself must develop as a field, capable of addressing a wider range of policy problems riddled with complexity and uncertainty.

A Future-Focused Curriculum

The six facets of our redesigned curriculum include:

  • Policy design studios
  • Technology and narrative lab
  • New, modular courses
  • Community policy partnerships
  • On-the-job training
  • Dissertations

When all of the elements of the redesign are in place in the fall of 2020, this curriculum will encourage and enable students to:

Designing for Innovation

“Pardee RAND has undertaken something completely revolutionary. This redesign has the potential to transform the practice of postgraduate education.”

—Jim Lovelace
Pardee RAND Board of Governors

Pardee RAND engaged more than 100 faculty, students, alumni, board members, and experts from the RAND community to identify the new capabilities and novel approaches needed to work with complexity, plan for disruption, and design and implement adaptive solutions.

We also sent design teams to meet with more than 30 organizations to broaden our field of view.

Participants came to understand that the school needed to embody a new education ecology and become a living laboratory where education, innovation, and intellectual freedom thrive.

The redesign will ensure that Pardee RAND continues to push forward the field of policy analysis. It will prepare students with the analytical, technical, and conceptual skills and leadership needed in this rapidly changing and uncertain world.

Pardee RAND’s ability to blaze its own trail is largely due to being part of the nonprofit RAND Corporation, with its mission-driven focus on policy and impact.

Nearly 50 years after our founding, our tradition of innovation, informed and inspired by analysis, continues.