History & Officers

Background and HistoryBackground
The North American Regional Science Council (NARSC) is a founding member of the Regional Science Association of the Americas. Our mission is to promote the exchange of knowledge, theory, and analysis of cities and regions across the globe.

NARSC represents the interests of regional scientists in North America, while our sister organizations that are member of RSAmericas promote the ideals of Regional Science throughout Central and South America. The European Regional Science Association (ERSA), and the Pacific Regional Science Conference Organization (PRSCO) service the needs of regional scientists throughout Europe and the Pacific Rim. All three super-regional associations fall within the organizational structure of the Regional Science Association International (RSAI) which coordinates the activities of regional scientists globally.

NARSC sponsors and organizes the annual North American meetings of the RSAI, and promotes regional science across the continent through its five regional organizations. These organizations serve the needs of regional scientists in Canada, and the northeast, southern, mid-continent, and western regions of the United States. Visit the Regional Organizations page for additional information.

NARSC, and all regional science associations, emphasize an interdisciplinary approach to urban and regional analysis. In North America, members of NARSC and the five regional organizations work in the fields of economics, geography, urban and regional planning, civil engineering, geographic information science, public policy, sociology, demography, finance, agricultural economics, and other fields. This interdisciplinary approach distinguishes regional science from many other scholarly organizations. While the bulk of members hold faculty positions at universities, many others are employed by federal, state, and local branches of government or research institutes.

NARSC fosters scholarship and the exchange of ideas and knowledge in several ways. First, in addition to organizing the annual North American Meetings of the RSAI, each of the five North American regional associations organizes its own annual conference. In addition to general regional science topics, some of the content of these meetings focuses on the region where the group is meeting. Second, all regional science organizations–global and regional–sponsor journals that serve as outlets for the dissemination of scholarly research. Collectively, these journals accommodate a broad range of research agendas, ranging from theory and analytic methods, to applied problems and policy analysis. Finally, NARSC and the five regional organizations in North America celebrate the accomplishments and achievements of members by bestowing awards and prizes. Regional science in North America is especially interested in promoting graduate student education, and sponsors fellowships and competitive prizes and awards for outstanding papers and/or dissertations. Visit the Awards & Prizes page for further information.

NARSC and the five regional organizations invite participation from scholars located in North America and in countries across the globe. For membership information, visit the RSAI website, or the websites of regional organizations which can be accessed from the Regional Organizations page.

The field of regional science was founded at the University of Pennsylvania in 1954. From the outset, regional science sought to develop theories, methods and tools that bring understanding to urban, regional, and spatial phenomena, and this mission remain central to regional science today. Given the breadth of processes that play out in urban and regional settings, regional science emphasized an interdisciplinary perspective, and soon members from a range of academic disciplines became active in the Association.

Over time, the Regional Science Association grew in popularity and gained members from many countries. The growth of regional science internationally signaled the need for reorganization and, in 1990, the Association changed its structure to better reflect the growth and development of the field. Since 1990, NARSC has benefited from the leadership of a number of scholars and professionals to foster its mission and sustain intellectually stimulating conferences and other broad based activities. Here are some of the key leaders who have distinguished themselves by our professional organization:

Executive Director




John Current Benjamin Chinitz David Boyce


John Current Benjamin Chinitz David Boyce


John Current Niles Hansen Jarvin Emerson


John Current Wilbur Maki Jarvin Emerson


John Current Michael Greenwood Hugh Knox


J.W. Harrington Larry Bourne Barry Moriarty


J.W. Harrington Larry Brown William Milne


J.W. Harrington William Schafer John Rees


J.W. Harrington Daniel Griffith Sam Cole


J.W. Harrington Geoffrey Hewings Eric Sheppard


J.W. Harrington Jacques Ledent Maureen Kilkenny


Adrian Esparza Ann Markusen Gordon Mulligan


Adrian Esparza Hugh Knox John Kort


Adrian Esparza Rodney Erickson Michael Lahr


Adrian Esparza Walter Isard Janet Kohlhase


Adrian Esparza William Beyers David Plane


Jean-Claude Thill Andrew Isserman Peter Schaeffer


Jean-Claude Thill Pavlos Kanaroglou Randall Jackson


Jean-Claude Thill James LeSage Mark Brown


Jean-Claude Thill Vernon Henderson Bruce Newbold


Jean-Claude Thill John Quigley Kara Kockelman


Jean-Claude Thill David Plane Janice Madden


Jean-Claude Thill Giles Duranton Andrew Haughwout


Jean-Claude Thill William Anderson Kieran Donaghy


Neil Reid Douglas Woodward Nancy White


The Regional Science Association International (RSAI) now serves as an umbrella organization overseeing three major super-regional organizations in North America, Europe and the Pacific.

Today, the RSAI meets the needs of regional scientists located in countries throughout the world. From Indonesia to Brazil, members of the RSAI uphold the spirit of regional science as they build theories and apply methods of analysis to cities and regions across the globe. In 2006, NARSC spearheaded the establishment of RSAmericas to stimulate intellectual exchanges throughout the Americas. RSAmericas held its first conference in Cartagena, Colombia, in February 2009. The second RSAmericas conference was hosted by NARSC in Miami, Florida in November 2011.


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