About Us

The PSTC is an internationally respected demography research and training center that seeks to create a dynamic environment in which the Center's affiliates can contribute to the resolution of human population issues in the 21st century through interdisciplinary research with a global perspective.

The primary mission of the PSTC is to produce and disseminate innovative research on the causes and consequences of population size, composition, distribution, and well-being in the U.S. and worldwide. 

PSTC faculty, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows conduct research and fieldwork in more than 20 nations, focusing on issues from health and development to environment and spatial structures. Through this type of global social science, the PSTC aims to influence the trajectory of population studies and improve health, well-being, and equality around the world by offering:

  • an outstanding interdisciplinary graduate training program;
  • a stimulating environment for population-related research and interdisciplinary exchange;
  • engineering and seeding promising new areas of population research;
  • research support services;
  • state-of-the-art facilities;
  • support for developing cross-unit collaborations on campus and with institutional partners around the world.

PSTC researchers focus on developing a better understanding of the social structures and systems underlying population structure and well-being, providing a better context in which to consider and debate major social issues and policy. The nature and depth of the connections the PSTC offers for this work are evident in our interdisciplinary faculty projectsresearch themes, and the number of departments represented by our affiliates:

  • Anthropology
  • Economics
  • Sociology
  • Education
  • Environmental Studies
  • History
  • Political Science
  • Public Health

History

The PSTC was established by a small core of Sociology faculty in 1965. Founder and distinguished professor Sidney Goldstein served as director until 1989 and was instrumental in the Center's evolution to an internationally respected center for demographic research and training.

The founding of the PSTC coincided with growing interest in population studies. The original core of Sociology faculty members was soon joined by scholars from Anthropology, Economics, and the health research community.

Research in the early years was focused on social demographic topics like population distribution, family and households, and development. Today’s associates continue the Center’s legacy of excellence in research and training and emphasize the collection of original, international data within the local cultural context. New and innovative research topics have developed, such as the application of spatial research to population studies.

The Center received its first National Institute of Health (NIH) infrastructure support in 1991, with continued support to this day. In 2004, the PSTC moved from its original cluster of rooms in Maxcy Hall to its own building—the historic four-floor Mencoff Hall.

PSTC directors

  • 1965-1989: Sidney Goldstein
  • 1989-1992: Frances Goldscheider
  • 1992-1994: John Casterline
  • 1994-1995: Frances Goldscheider
  • 1995-2000: Dennis Hogan
  • 2000-2006: Mark Pitt (Goldscheider as interim 2003-2004)
  • 2006-2011: Michael White
  • 2011-2016: Andrew Foster
  • 2016-           : Susan Short

Funding

The PSTC receives financial support from the following:

  • NICHD Population Center infrastructure grant
  • NICHD training and research grant
  • Brown University
  • faculty research grants from a variety of public and private sponsors, including the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Russell Sage Foundation, and the Hewlett Foundation