Pardee RAND Celebrates 50 Years of Policy Impact

Pardee RAND Graduate School 50th anniversary logo

Message from the Dean

Fifty years. Step back and think about this.

Fifty years ago, RAND understood that the world had changed. Uncertainty and mistrust pervaded the public discussion of such critical issues as quality education, access to health care, civil rights, nuclear threats, and a foreign policy mired in interminable conflicts in far off lands.

Fifty years ago RAND realized it needed to lead the charge for a new approach to public policy and the new field of policy analysis. To do so required a new type of graduate school that would bring analytic rigor and new perspectives to the field—and new intellectual capital to RAND.

Fifty years ago, RAND founded the RAND Graduate Institute.

Charles Wolf teaches a RAND Graduate School class in 1980

Pardee RAND Graduate School is celebrating its 50th anniversary with the same sense of urgency in the face of a rapidly changing world, deep uncertainty, and extreme polarization. The problems we face now, including the extraordinary coronavirus pandemic, demand new ways of thinking, a deep understanding of what it takes to effect change, and insights into both the implications of technology for society and how to leverage that technology for new, positive solutions. Advanced technologies have connected the world in new and exciting ways but have also generated unintended—and sometimes undesirable—consequences. So the leadership at RAND and Pardee RAND set out to reconceptualize what public policy graduate education must look like in this century. And we have once again taken bold action, building a public policy graduate school like no other and developing a new approach to policy analysis for our students, for RAND, and for our communities.

In particular, we recognized that solving today’s problems, and those in the future, requires a broad range of expertise, experience, creativity, and perspective. The three new policy engagement streams that will launch this fall — Research, Analysis, and Design; Community-Partnered Policy and Action; and Technology Applications and Implications — will bring new perspectives into Pardee RAND and give today’s students and our RAND researcher faculty far more exposure to new approaches and techniques than was available to those of the 20th century. These streams are designed to take on increasingly complex social and systemic problems for a world in which the public sector is not the only source of public policy or policy solutions.

Ann Pendleton-Jullian teaching a first-year studio class at the Pardee RAND Graduate School

As we celebrate our 50th, Pardee RAND is once again leading the way with a new model for public policy graduate education, redefining the field of policy analysis, and taking on technology in the public—rather than private—interest. RAND’s graduate school is attracting more interest than ever. Each year, we increase the size and impact of our school in numbers of students, support to our faculty, and the new capabilities we provide to RAND for technology development and application and community partnerships.

As a discipline, the seeds were sown fifty years ago when RAND established the first Ph.D. program devoted to public policy analysis. For five decades, those seeds have yielded powerful and effective tools and traditions that helped the public sector address some of the most challenging problems of the day. As we celebrate fifty years of “Be the Answer” impact, we look forward to meeting the demands of tomorrow with action today.