Risk Insights
May 28, 2021

RANE Connects Educators, Students and Businesses Through Stratfor

Students graduating college in 2021 will enter a business climate completely changed by the global pandemic. 

Geopolitical risk and uncertainty are major challenges for business operations. In fact, geopolitical risk is listed among the top three risks in major corporate C-suite surveys. Yet companies find geopolitical risk both difficult to fully understand, and therefore even more challenging to manage. 

One of RANE’s core offerings is helping businesses manage geopolitical risk through our Stratfor intelligence team. We define geopolitics as a method of studying the world and a lens through which to view it; it assesses geography, politics, economics, security, history, society, and technology to build a deeper understanding of nations, subnations, regions, and the world. Geopolitics identifies the constraints and compulsions on states and leaders, and from these, the limits of options become more apparent and patterns and actions more predictable.

Greg Radner is Chief Marketing officer at RANE. 

“Now, more than ever, companies seek new hires with a global mindset who have fresh ideas and a different perspective, ready to tackle a changed global economy,” he said.  “RANE combines both business needs for a more globally aware workforce, with students’ needs to develop a global mindset through our Stratfor educational offerings. Faculty also leverage RANE’s resources to incorporate geopolitics into coursework.”

This year, RANE partnered with several universities to develop geopolitical understanding of real-world business situations. 

We launched an online certificate program in Geopolitical Analysis developed with Florida Atlantic University, one of the leading executive education programs in the U.S.. Attendees learned how to apply geopolitical analysis to business operations, through a combination of interactive lectures, business case studies, and hands-on practicums.  

For several years, RANE’s Stratfor team has offered a capstone project at the Bush School, at Texas A&M University. Students have done research on topics such as The Chinese Intelligence System: Post-2013 Restructuring; Response Plans & Cyber Postures: A Seven Country Analysis; U.S. Export Control: Changes and Impact on U.S. Business and National Security; and the Clash of Digital Civilizations. Each year students present 40-80 page research papers, and share findings with our analysts. 

At the University of Texas at Austin, RANE worked with undergraduate students in the STEM for National Security class. 

Sophia Johnson is the Inventors Program Coordinator at the UT College of Natural Science.

“The Inventors Program builds a bridge between theory and application by pairing students with innovative faculty and engaged industry partners to delve deep into authentic STEM projects. Students apply their science education, think like entrepreneurs, leverage their unique backgrounds, and build their network. Our Inventors students exit their experience as a diverse, interdisciplinary cohort of undergraduate students equipped to tackle today’s cutting-edge STEM challenges in industry and government.”

Johnson said students worked with experts from Stratfor, CIA, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Army Futures Command, and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency to scope problems at the intersection of science, technology, and policy. 

Rodger Baker, Stratfor Senior VP for Strategic Analysis at RANE, mentored a team of  students. He advised them on how to shape and refine their question, provide context, and helped test their assertions and recommendations as they worked through the problem statement. 

Shelby Hobhorn was in Baker’s group. She is a graduating senior, who begins work this summer as a full-time systems engineer for Lockheed Martin while pursuing her Master's degree in nuclear engineering at UT. She and her teammates, Annahita Escher, Ezequiel Lozano, Daniel O'Cleirigh, Alaina Ruckman, looked at ways that foreign actors can use social media to collect information that would affect national security in the United States and how the US could potentially mitigate those risks. 

“So obviously LinkedIn was the one we mostly focused on. And then we were looking at both ways in the past that foreign actors had used these platforms to collect information on US citizens, as well as the best ways to mitigate that in the future.”

Baker said, “The risks to national security due to social engineering on professional networking sites is an important and often overlooked topic, one as important for those in International business or academia as it is for those in government or sensitive industries.”

In less than 36 hours after launching a fake LinkedIn profile, they counted 55 connections. 

Hobhorn said,” We were able to get a total of around six or seven from the class to connect, including our TA and one of the program leaders of the Inventors Program. They had no idea it was our team beforehand. Our TA had even messaged our fake profile and offered a national security opportunity to our profile.”

What the team found, she said, was far too much trust and far too little research going into social media connections. 

“What happens with these LinkedIn profiles, and this is what we are trying to demonstrate, is people will see, ‘Oh, this person knows Shelby.’ And then there'll be like, ‘Oh, since they know Shelby, I'll connect.’” So that's what my best friend actually did. She texted me and was like, ‘Oh, I saw that this person connected with me so I said yes because I saw that you knew her.’ 

Baker said he was honored to work with the students, and that their project demonstrated clearly just how vulnerable organizations can be to human frailty. 

Hobhorn said the class was great. “I would never have even probably looked into this topic without the course. And I think it was a really great introduction to working in the intersection of technology and policy for national security. And then Roger was great. He encouraged us to learn about all the fake profiles and showed us how he spots them. He always gave us such great feedback and prompting on where to go with our project that generated more ideas.”

RANE is the trusted partner of over 30 leading universities, supplying students and faculty with access to world-class geopolitical resources. For more than 20 years, organizations have turned to RANE as a trusted information source for in-depth analysis and forecasting of global trends. To learn more about how RANE Worldview, powered by Stratfor, provides students and faculty with objective geopolitical intelligence and predictive insights to help better inform their understanding of the world, click here.

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