The University at Albany’s Center for Social and Demographic Analysis (CSDA) was created in 1981 under the direction of Richard Alba (Distinguished Professor of Sociology). At that time, CSDA had a modest budget and staff, consisting of a half-time programmer and secretary. Office space was provided by the University in the basement of one of the student dormitories. In this early phase of its history, the primary mission of CSDA was to facilitate the research of a relatively small group of Albany population scientists, virtually all of whom were faculty members in the Department of Sociology. CSDA became a focal point for further investments by the University administration. Strategic faculty recruitments, additional staff, and allied capital improvements–particularly in its computing infrastructure-enabled CSDA to further expand its mission of facilitating and enhancing population research at the University at Albany. Positioned by these developments, CSDA applied for an NICHD Population Center Core Grant (P30) in October of 1996. This application was reviewed successfully, and CSDA officially joined the roster of NICHD Population Centers in September of 1997 and has now received support through June 2017.
CSDA’s mission is to facilitate and organize population research and education of the highest caliber. It will accomplish this overarching mission by pursuing the following specific objectives:
- Creating a stimulating and cohesive intellectual environment conducive to the development of multidisciplinary population scholarship, particularly in the areas of Spatial Inequalities and Vulnerable Populations
- Facilitating the interchange of theories, ideas, methods, and data between traditional population scientists and other fields, programs, and research units
- Assisting researchers in acquiring and accessing social science data sets most appropriate to their research programs
- Providing state-of-the-art computer programming, software, hardware, and statistical support for population research
- Helping researchers prepare grant proposals and manage the day-to-day administration and execution of their grants
- Providing access to key sources of information, including census documents, surveys and codebooks, hard-to-find publications and working papers, and other reference materials
- Fostering demographic research through mentoring the new generation of population scientists and helping researchers remain active during midcareer
- Providing demographic information and expertise to the wider academic community and the general public
CSDA works together with several other research centers at the University at Albany. The most notable tie is with the Lewis Mumford Center for Comparative Urban and Regional Research. The Mumford Center was established in 1987 under the direction of geographer Ray Bromley. In its first decade it functioned primarily to organize seminars and conferences involving faculty from several departments with interests in urban and regional issues. In the summer of 1999, with the appointment of John Logan (Distinguished Professor of Sociology) as director, the University at Albany made a substantial new investment in the center, including professional and secretarial staff, a supplies and expenses budget, and office space. The Mumford Center has a long history of partnership with CSDA, beginning with a joint project on inner cities funded by the Rockefeller Foundation (1990-1991), and continuing with the Urban China Research Network, funded with a five-year grant from the Mellon Foundation (2000-2005). All Mumford Center research projects with NSF or NIH support have been administered jointly with CSDA and have relied on CSDA for infrastructural support. The Mumford Center had developed a major public infrastructure program related to Census 2000, which garnered support from the Ford Foundation and brought considerable national visibility to population research at the University at Albany. In 2013, Catherine Lawson from the Department of Geography and Planning was appointed as the director of the Mumford Center. CSDA continues to remain a close collaborating relationship with the Mumford Center in terms of census data extraction and manipulation.