Pardee RAND Graduate School Dissertations

Pardee RAND dissertations provide students with an opportunity to tackle some of the most pressing and difficult policy problems of the day. Collectively, the dissertations produced by our students have spanned the full gamut of substantive public policy areas and analytic methods.

Moreover, dissertation research takes place in a unique environment — a graduate school embedded in the world's first and largest independent public policy research organization. At any given time at RAND, there are more than 1,000 research projects under way. Many students link their dissertations to these projects, carving out an area for their individual contribution to knowledge. This is an opportunity Pardee RAND students value, an opportunity RAND values — and an opportunity that produces dissertations that probably could not be produced anywhere else.

Developing New Analytical Approaches

Many dissertations develop new analytical approaches. David Howell developed a resource allocation methodology for designing strategies to detect terrorist weapon development. John Pinder created a new simulation methodology for analyzing the Kosovo-style conflicts that may become more prevalent in the decades ahead. Moira Inkelas' dissertation on children-at-risk in health was praised by an outside reader as "the best example I've seen where detailed institutional knowledge led to a new and better statistical specification."

Other dissertations look ahead to new kinds of problems that may emerge — and what might be done about them. Eric Jesse focused his dissertation on forecasting the future of Iran and what various forecasts imply for strategy and doctrine. Lorne Teitelbaum assessed the impact of the information revolution on the intelligence community. Sean Edwards combined both historical analysis and large-scale modeling in his research on "swarming" as a battlefield phenomenon. Geoffrey Sommer addressed policies to deal with the possible hazards of near-earth objects, and in general on how to think about very low probability events.

Wide Range of Topics

The range of topics covered by our students in their dissertations is truly vast. Recently, Kenneth Grosselin completed his dissertation on how national security satellites could be deployed more efficiently and effectively, and in a second national security-related dissertation, Aaron Martin examined how we finance military operations. On the domestic policy front, Myles Collins analyzed how better consumer feedback could be harnessed to help manage residential energy demand, Sarah Gaillot looked at disparities in trauma and mental health service use, Sara Hajiamiri studied several issues related to transportation energy and environmental policy, and Lindsay Daugherty addressed the question of why Hispanic families are reluctant to use child care services.

Many of our students' dissertations focus on problems found abroad. For example, Yuyan Shi recently wrote about the economics of health behavior in China, Ki-Tae Park addressed decision making related to North Korea's nuclear weapons program, and Arkadipta Ghosh took on the question of how mortality risks and land reform influence human capital investments in India.

Finally, it is interesting to note that many of the topics covered by our students in their dissertations cross the normal boundaries of public, private, and non-profit. For example, David Trinkle's dissertation focused on government-industry partnerships to advance automobile technology. And Margaret Blume-Kohout examined government policy and pharmaceutical industry innovation.

The above-mentioned dissertations represent just a small sample of the more than 370 dissertations that have been completed by our students (as of December 2016). We believe that many of these dissertations have had a significant impact on public policy decisions and that many others will in the years to come.