Alumni Impact Fund: Proposed Projects

The three projects described here are candidates for Alumni Impact Fund support.

Catalyzing International Space Traffic Management

Space debris orbiting Earth, illustration by dottedhippo/Getty Images

Illustration by dottedhippo/Getty Images

Despite significant increases in space congestion and growing indications that we are at a tipping point for space traffic, the basic treaties and space governance mechanisms that were crafted 50 years ago have only marginally changed. Growing geopolitical competition and conflict precursors also leave the domain vulnerable to shocks that could reduce its benefit to humanity. A viable governance system for the future is imperative for economic and security reasons. Creating a practical, long-lasting space traffic management system—less likely to encounter geopolitical polarization compared to more contentious security issues—can help ensure space exploration is sustained for the benefit of all.

Bruce McClintock and Anca Agachi will use Alumni Impact funding to further develop, socialize, and widely share recommendations from RAND's first report on international space traffic management (ISTM) with expert and policy audiences in Europe, the Indo-Pacific, and the United States—regions that are critical for progress on ISTM. The research team will host structured workshops for each region, targeting space experts, scientific advisors, government officials, and other track II actors from key countries and regions to help advance the recommendations in RAND's report. Ideally, this effort will catalyze an international space traffic management convention and lead to a sustainable governance process and structure.

Partnering with Educators to Craft Coherent K–12 Instructional Systems

A female teacher stands in front of a class explaining a concept while her students listen. Photo by wavebreak3/Adobe Stock

Photo by wavebreak3/Adobe Stock

Instructional system coherence—ensuring that teachers are getting consistent and clear messages about what to teach and how to teach it—is critical for instructional quality, teacher well-being, and student learning. As important as it is, the concept is abstract and potentially difficult to grasp, especially in written form.

With AIF funding, Elaine Wang and colleagues will extend the reach of RAND's portfolio of work on “coherent instructional systems” in K–12 education by developing new forms of messaging, in collaboration with practitioners, to help on-the-ground educators—K–12 principals and teachers who are essential for systems change—deeply understand and prioritize this concept. She will use the funding to develop and disseminate brief, digestible educator-facing messages, including short video(s) to clearly explain instructional system coherence and its importance. Additionally, the funding will enable video documentation of practitioners' use of RAND's “Improving Instructional System Coherence” toolkit, featuring practitioner voices, which will help improve educator awareness and greater take-up of the toolkit—with the goal of having more districts and schools engage in work to improve the coherence of their systems.

Strengthening the Health Care Workforce

Health care staff stacking their hands together in a hospital, photo by PeopleImages/Getty Images

Photo by PeopleImages/Getty Images

The United States faces a significant shortage of health care workers in nursing, primary care, and behavioral health. If current trends persist, these shortages will only increase in the face of an aging U.S. population and with health threats from climate change and emerging pathogens. Securing the health workforce in the United States is a top priority for hospitals, health systems, and policymakers.

With AIF funding, Mahshid Abir will build on RAND work that identified interventions to help address health care workforce shortages in the Commonwealth of Virginia and ongoing work to identify strategies for retention and recruitment of U.S. Army nurses. She will assess the applicability of the RAND findings to other localities and populations, including evaluating strategies for health care workforce retention and recruitment in very urban centers, county and safety net hospitals, and critical access hospitals, and for primary care, nursing, and behavioral health. The impact funding will support a RAND-hosted conference and the publication of both the study results and conference proceedings to help inform national practices and policies for developing the health workforce in the United States.