Alumni Impact Fund: Proposed Projects

The three projects described here are candidates for Alumni Impact Fund support—funding raised during the 2022 AIF campaign.

Reforming and Rebuilding Ukraine

Volunteers remove debris from the House of Culture in the village of Ivanivka, which was damaged in a Russian attack, in Chernihiv region, Ukraine, September 3, 2022, photo by Vladislav Musienko/Reuters

Volunteers remove debris from the House of Culture in the village of Ivanivka, which was damaged in a Russian attack, in Chernihiv region, Ukraine, September 3, 2022

Photo by Vladislav Musienko/Reuters

Post-war reconstruction in Ukraine may be the largest rebuilding effort in modern history. U.S., European, and Ukrainian officials are making decisions now as to how reform, reconstruct, and secure Ukraine. Recent U.S. reconstruction efforts were in Iraq and Afghanistan, but Ukraine is fundamentally different: When the fighting slows, there will be no insurgency or civil war. Better models are the successful record of European rebuilding after WWII, the fall of the Wall, and the breakup of Yugoslavia. To aid decisionmakers, RAND has distilled lessons for Ukraine from relevant post-war and natural disaster reconstruction efforts. The research emphasizes the importance of post-conflict security—largely neglected in current discussion. With AIF funding, Howard Shatz, Gabrielle Tarini, Charles Ries, James Dobbins, and Daniel Egel will robustly disseminate this analysis to help officials prepare and plan for long-term, consistent, and coordinated policy toward post-war Ukraine.

The team will develop a briefing for U.S. and European policymakers, as well as the private sector, to orient decisionmakers to the practical dimensions of Ukraine's reconstruction, its geopolitical salience, and its place in broader U.S. national security interests. They will develop and disseminate a RAND Ukraine Reconstruction Calculator to help policymakers and the public gain a rapid understanding of key reconstruction insights and explore dimensions of the reconstruction challenge, including the tradeoffs in focus areas (such as housing, industry, and private sector support) at different levels of funding and investment. With other research organizations, RAND will host a Ukraine reconstruction conference and the researchers will also author a commentary and a longer-form publication to help inform the broader debate on Ukraine's reconstruction.

Training Savvy Data Science Consumers

Illustration of a data science class behind held inside a laptop to depict online training, image by z_wei/Getty Images

Illustration by z_wei/Getty Images

A recent RAND study for the Congressional Research Service (CRS) found that many analysts, managers, and other CRS staff members lack familiarity on how to interpret results from the modern analytic methods—data science, artificial intelligence, and machine learning—used in policy research. RAND identified a need for training that will help decisionmakers, policymakers, and the general public interpret data analysis results and assess the suitability of data analysis for policymaking—with the goal of producing savvy consumers of data analysis.

Carter Price, Dulani Woods, and Mohammad Ahmadi will use AIF funding to develop data analysis instructional and training materials. A series of tutorial videos, based on the Pardee RAND Graduate School's Introduction to Data Science course, will provide an overview of commonly used data analysis methods. The tutorials will also address sources of bias to help promote equitable applications of these methods. The team will publish the training materials and make them freely available on multiple channels, including on the Pardee RAND website. They will use social media, in particular Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, to market the work and reach a broad spectrum of interested parties, helping to reducing barriers to accessing this type of instruction.

Visualizing Global Economic Risk

A world map superimposed over a warehouse of goods, photo by coffeekai/Getty Images

Photo by coffeekai/Getty Images

From COVID-19 to the war in Ukraine, the past several years have been marked by persistent disruption, including constant supply chain challenges. RAND researchers have been working to improve understanding of systemic risk across the global economy, including analyzing supply chain links and global interdependence between businesses across countries. Using AIF funding, Jonathan Welburn, Aaron Strong, Zev Winkelman, Shannon Prier, Cheryl Montemayor, Adrian Salas, John Bordeaux, and Henry Willis will amplify the reach of RAND's analysis, targeting audiences that are actively concerned with disruptions and the role of interconnected global economic networks.

The team will create an interactive web tool to help decisionmakers, including the broader policy and business community, visualize large global networks and the connections among them, including by key features like country, sector, and supplier/customer relationship. The web tool will allow users to interact with a highly interconnected global economy and make tangible the complex web of connections. Additionally, RAND will host an event, bringing together policy, industry, and academic leaders to examine the multi-tiered relationships in global supply chains and discuss key decisionmaking challenges during overlapping crises (ex., pandemic, war, climate-driven events). The team will disseminate insights from the web tool, as well as key takeaways from the event, through briefs and commentary. They will also explore the creation of an economic search tool, which much like Google maps, could provide users with the ability to navigate supply chain and counterparty risks while scaling through the data of user generated queries.