The TNL was started as part of the new Ph.D. curriculum for Pardee RAND Graduate School. The lab serves as a focal point for “Tech Stream” students, and an interaction point for students from other streams, faculty, and RAND researchers. More info on the core as well as Tech Stream curriculum can be found at the Pardee RAND web site.


The Technology Applications and Implications Stream (“Tech Stream”) is designed to blend a traditional policy analysis training with hands-on technology experimentation. This stream seeks to train, and in fact redefine next-generation policy analysis and action. The Tech Stream combines the same core course requirements as the other two streams while adding new elements and changing the nature of the dissertation. The Tech Stream also embraces the cross-cutting themes of ethics, communication, social justice, and racial equity; experimentation in the stream to directly address or include aspects of one or more themes is strongly encouraged.

Onboarding: During or right after bootcamp, each student meets with a committee (made up of some subset of existing Tech + Narrative Lab (TNL) -associated faculty and the broader Pardee RAND faculty) to discuss goals and objectives while identifying any possible gaps. The committee works with the student to identify any remediation or suggested efforts beyond the 1st year core curriculum.

Tech + Narrative Lab Residency: this is designed to move the student from assigned course work to framing of research and experimentation at the intersection of emerging technology and policy. The student uses the time and space of the Residency to experiment and begin building artifacts for the Portfolio. The Residency is mentored by associated faculty and external fellows/collaborators. Faculty work with the student to determine possible paths and identify any needed skills. Acquisition of skills will be fostered by a combination of workshops, mentored work, and independent study. The Residency is designed to encourage breadth through exploration in multiple areas, and depth through focused exploration. Students should use the Residency to begin framing both their dissertation topic and portfolio artifacts and approaches. Exploration of the program cross-cutting themes of ethics, communications, social justice, and racial equity is highly encouraged.

Portfolio: students need to create artifacts that show evidence of individual research ideas, facility with emerging technology, and understanding of policy intersections. Students work with their Portfolio/Dissertation Committee to ensure that both depth and breadth are exhibited by the work. In addition, the Portfolio should not be a random collection of efforts. Exploration is encouraged, but part of the Portfolio should illustrate inquiry into a particular set of applications and implications. Also, while the portfolio can be thought of as one culmination of study, it is in fact part of a continuum of exploration and experimentation at the intersection of emerging technology and policy that began with Onboarding. Portfolio review is ongoing during the later years of a students’ program, and the committee provides not only review but also up-front input. Ethical considerations are an important aspect of portfolio development, along with issues around social justice and racial equity. Artifacts can directly address these topics, or can focus on implications relating to the themes. Each portfolio artifact requires documentation, allowing the work be shared and understood by multiple audiences.

Dissertation: given the scope of work required for the portfolio, the dissertation serves as a critical framing document that provides context for the work of the portfolio. It also provides evidence of the depth of research and mastery of skills. The dissertation and portfolio work together to provide a coherent narrative of the student’s work and evidence of problem framing, research depth and breadth, and technical exploration/experimentation.

Meet the 2020 cohort for the Technology Applications and Implications Stream.

Jim Mignano

Jeannette Tsuei

Swad Komanduri

Marissa Herron

Carlos Villegas

Brian Mills

Swaptik Chowdhury

Ishita Ghai

Eddie López