Applying a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Lens to Higher Education and Public Policy

Q&A with Nancy Staudt

Nancy Staudt is the Frank and Marcia Carlucci Dean of the Pardee RAND Graduate School and Vice President of Innovation at RAND. She is a scholar in tax policy and legal studies. In this issue, Dean Staudt discusses the role of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in her current and prior roles.

What is the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts at Pardee RAND and your work at RAND?

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are among my top priorities as dean and vice president of innovation. As we state on Pardee RAND’s DEI page, at Pardee RAND we believe that better public policy reflects the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and we are dedicated to promoting those values throughout the educational and professional environment at Pardee RAND and the broader RAND community. In my view, promoting DEI is important from an ethical perspective, but also for purposes of achieving excellence at RAND and Pardee RAND. Study after study show that diverse groups, teams, and organizations have better decisionmaking processes and produce better results on important metrics. Indeed, many scholars have identified the “diversity bonus” that organizations obtain when tapping into the diverse approaches that people use to address complex issues and ideas. For all these reasons, I am an advocate for DEI and hope to partner with the RAND’s Center to Advance Racial Equity Policy on new and exciting initiatives.

What policies or programs did you work on prior to RAND that are particularly effective helping RAND and Pardee RAND meet their DEI goals?

Prior to joining RAND, I had the opportunity to work with amazing teams in the university context on many DEI issues and initiatives. For example, I chaired a university-wide task force charged by the chancellor to map out a two-year action plan for greater diversity, equity, and inclusion on campus at Washington University in St. Louis. I also participated in cluster hiring initiatives, statewide committees seeking greater racial and ethnic justice, and an annual event on campus that we called “The Day of Diversity and Dialogue.” RAND and Pardee RAND have also done some interesting work in this area, from the Next Gen Initiative’s Equity Hackathon with the Atlanta University Center Consortium to our Faculty Leaders Program. I am looking forward to working with our new DEI Director, Malcolm Williams, to explore what programs would be most appropriate and helpful as we move forward.

Are there areas in public policy research and Pardee RAND’s curriculum that you think would benefit from an equity lens?

Because I believe that DEI is so fundamental to the success of every organization, I believe all areas of public policy research and academic learning would benefit from a DEI lens. I hope you don’t think this is a “cop out,” because I would answer exactly the same if you asked what areas of public policy research and academic learning would benefit from ethics, rigor, or thoughtful analysis. ALL are important for successful research and learning.

In your opinion, how can equity research improve public policy and higher education in the coming years?

Great question! I believe that our growing commitment to and deeper understanding of DEI improve learning outcomes, improve our understanding of the most important issues of the day, and improve our ability to address social and public policy challenges everywhere. In short, equity research will enable not only Pardee RAND to achieve its academic mission but is important for all of higher education.

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