Diversity at PRGS

Why and how does diversity matter in a PhD program? No known algorithm links various dimensions of diversity to various educational outcomes. But it is clear that our students and our faculty, as well as the leadership of the School and of RAND, celebrate diversity.

The official policies of both the School and RAND also emphasize diversity. PRGS is following a strategy with several components. First, we have created an educational experience in which diversity is a strength. Second, we want to convey the message about that experience to diverse groups. Third, we emphasize diversity in the admissions process.

First Component: An Educational Experience Where Diversity Is a Strength

Diversity and the Field of Study

In terms of their enhancing education, diverse points of view and life experiences presumably matter more in some fields than in others. For example, in graduate studies in clinical psychology there may be more opportunities for diversity to matter than in graduate studies of pure mathematics. Policy analysis falls at the "matters more" end of the spectrum, particularly in the direction the Pardee RAND Graduate School is now moving.

The major problems confronting our localities, our country, and the world no longer fall into neat categories of public or private, leave this to the state or let that go to the market. From education to health care, in regulatory reform and city services, in areas of defense management ranging from procurement to outsourcing to privatization, in areas of international security ranging from cyberspace to terrorism, today’s issues involve governments and businesses and citizens interacting, sometimes in new institutional settings. Tomorrow’s agenda will go beyond "the choice" by "the decision maker" and beyond public management to embrace the reform of the institutions of both state and market and the improvement of partnerships among these institutions.

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Second Component: Convey the Message to Diverse Groups

The second prong of the strategy is to convey the message to diverse groups.

We believe that the PRGS experience should be attractive to groups whose diversity will enhance the education and who are underrepresented at the School. Here is a chance to join some of the ablest graduate students in the world and dig in on some of the most important issues of the day. Here is a chance to combine a superb curriculum with practical experience working on real projects with senior mentors. The program is fully funded–including tuition, health care, an office, a computer, a telephone, and a stipend–all based on earnings from OJT. Graduates have no trouble getting jobs. Combine the pieces–intellectual excitement; practical contributions; access to the fabled RAND culture; full funding; and a PhD with a bright future in public service, academia, the private sector, or non-government organizations–and the package should excite a wide audience.

The overarching message is this: What we do at PRGS matches the interests and aspirations of diverse groups. The next task is to make sure people who will add educational diversity get this message, and get it from channels and in ways they will appreciate.

For example, for many years PRGS has aggressively sought African-Americans, and it continues to do so. Many African-American students are interested in addressing social and economic issues connected with poverty and inequality; this is true of many other minority groups as well. We want to make sure that these students see that what they will learn at PRGS, and what they can do in their OJT and dissertations, has exciting possibilities for making a difference to those issues. In our publications and elsewhere on this website, we indicate the kinds of OJT opportunities and dissertation topics that we hope will help people with diverse aspirations see how they can in fact be satisfied here.

A particularly attractive pool are members of underrepresented groups who happen to be pursuing graduate work in economics, statistics, business, and the sciences and who have discovered that they would like something more, something different. For example, most graduate departments of economics offer almost no chances during the first years to apply what is learned to pressing economic policy issues. We are interested in all such graduate students with the requisite passion and discipline – and particularly in those who are also members of underrepresented groups. We hope to attract some of the best of those now planning to be scientists, economists, statisticians, and so forth but who hope to apply their expertise to dealing with the world’s problems.

Third Component: Emphasize Diversity in the Admissions Process

Once the applicant pool is generated, it is important that the admissions process consider diversity carefully. This is pursued at PRGS in several ways. First, by expressing the philosophy of diversity in the policy guidance the committee receives. Second, by studying possible biases in commonly used admissions criteria, such as standardized test scores. Third, by ensuring diversity on the admissions committee. And finally, during the admissions process, by pausing toward the end to reconsider the admitted class as a whole, in the context of various kinds of diversity.

Diversity Is Essential

Diversity is essential to the PRGS educational experience. Students and faculty aspire to make it one of our hallmarks. We have created an educational program where diversity thrives. We hope to convey a powerful message to groups who will contribute to that diversity. The most important of that message is that what they can learn and do here will satisfy their diverse aspirations. Finally, we have implemented an admissions process that collectively and subjectively gives diversity a priority.

We are proud of the diversity exhibited in the PRGS student body. We also recognize that achieving diversity requires constant effort and improvement, where success cannot be precisely defined but nonetheless represents one of our highest values.

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