School Hosts Fifth Annual Faculty Leaders Program

Photo by Diane Baldwin/RAND Corporation

August 10, 2017

Pardee RAND held its fifth annual Faculty Leaders Program, a professional development workshop to encourage diversity in the next generation of policy analysts and leaders, July 24–28. The School welcomed 14 faculty members from colleges and universities that serve students who are traditionally underrepresented in public policy. To date, 62 faculty leaders from 37 institutions have participated in the program.

The School's mission is to develop the next generation of policy leaders who will confront the world’s toughest challenges with expertise, scientific rigor, and reason. To that end, the Faculty Leaders Program seeks to bring diverse voices to public policy.

Faculty members come from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds and are selected based on their potential to affect change by influencing policymakers with their research and through their teaching and mentoring of the next generation of policy leaders. Faculty must have well-defined ideas for utilizing program components and whose policy research interests align sufficiently with the RAND portfolio to allow for meaningful mentorship. Fellowships are awarded for hotel and travel expenses.

During their time in RAND's Santa Monica office, this year's faculty leaders participated in intensive sessions and panels on public policy taught by Assistant Dean Gery Ryan and professors Lionel Galway, Jeanne Ringel, and Jeffrey Wasserman (cohort '85). Pardee RAND students Maya Buenaventura (cohort '14), Lauren Davis (cohort '15), and Alexandra Mendoza-Graf (cohort '16) facilitated the sessions.

Faculty also discussed their work individually with a RAND researcher in an area of common interest, to help them see how they could apply the tools they learned to a proposal on a policy issue of their choice. Policy topics this year included examinations of school policies on equitable discipline, disaggregating Middle Eastern and North African populations from whites with respect to health issues, and examining social determinants of health in marginalized communicates.

RAND mentors included alum Daniel Waxman (cohort '10)​ and professors Deborah Cohen, Cortez Cooper, Amy DeSantis, Tamara Dubowitz, Sean Grant, Lisa Meredith, and Angel O'Mahony, as well as other RAND researchers. Faculty leaders and RAND researchers are encouraged to continue the collaboration after the program ends.

To our knowledge, there are no other programs like this that aim to empower faculty across a variety of disciplines as “change agents” by introducing them to the skills of public policy analysis. This program hopes to increase the impact of their scholarship, build relationships across institutions, inspire them to introduce public policy to their students, and develop important ties between and among participants.

Faculty leader Allyson Hall commented, "The week at Pardee RAND provided me with valuable tools to engage students and encourage critical thinking in policy analysis. I enjoyed interacting and learning from the faculty participants who are at various stages in their careers and from a variety of disciplines. In addition, I made a valuable connection with a RAND researcher, Dan Waxman. My week in Santa Monica was a week well spent."

Echoing Hall's feedback, faculty leader Arlesia Mathis noted, "I brought home so many great ideas to implement in my classes and in my research."

Additional program activities included a panel discussion on "Community Research ​in Action" featuring RAND researchers and a special reception and ​keynote event with Professor Keith Norris of the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Norris delivered an address, Increasing Diversity in the 21st Century: The Role of Mentoring, a video of which is available online.