History & Officers

Background and History

The mission of the North American Regional Science Council (NARSC) is to promote the scholarly exchange of ideas and knowledge that apply to urban and regional phenomena in North America and across the globe. The Council fosters exchange across academic disciplines and builds on the understanding that urban and regional issues are best addressed by utilizing tools, methods, and theoretical frameworks specifically designed for regional analysis, as well as concepts, procedures, and analytical techniques of the various social and other sciences. The Council organizes an annual national conference that provides a forum for interaction and discussion and the dissemination of research and ideas. NARSC is an objective, scientific body without political, social, financial, or nationalistic bias.

NARSC represents the interests of regional scientists in North America. We operate under the umbrella of the Regional Science Association International (RSAI), which coordinates the activities of regional scientists globally. Other regional science organizations operating under the umbrella of the RSAI are the European Regional Science Association (ERSA), the Pacific Regional Science Conference Association (PRSCO) and the Latin America Regional Science Association (LARSA).

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, three of the five North American regional associations (WRSA, SRSA, and MCRSA) 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 CurrentBenjamin ChinitzDavid Boyce


John CurrentBenjamin ChinitzDavid Boyce


John CurrentNiles HansenJarvin Emerson


John CurrentWilbur MakiJarvin Emerson


John CurrentMichael GreenwoodHugh Knox


J.W. HarringtonLarry BourneBarry Moriarty


J.W. HarringtonLarry BrownWilliam Milne


J.W. HarringtonWilliam SchaferJohn Rees


J.W. HarringtonDaniel GriffithSam Cole


J.W. HarringtonGeoffrey HewingsEric Sheppard


J.W. HarringtonJacques LedentMaureen Kilkenny


Adrian EsparzaAnn MarkusenGordon Mulligan


Adrian EsparzaHugh KnoxJohn Kort


Adrian EsparzaRodney EricksonMichael Lahr


Adrian EsparzaWalter IsardJanet Kohlhase


Adrian EsparzaWilliam BeyersDavid Plane


Jean-Claude ThillAndrew IssermanPeter Schaeffer


Jean-Claude ThillPavlos KanaroglouRandall Jackson


Jean-Claude ThillJames LeSageMark Brown


Jean-Claude ThillVernon HendersonBruce Newbold


Jean-Claude ThillJohn QuigleyKara Kockelman


Jean-Claude ThillDavid PlaneJanice Madden


Jean-Claude ThillGiles DurantonAndrew Haughwout


Jean-Claude ThillWilliam AndersonKieran Donaghy


Neil ReidDouglas WoodwardNancy White


Neil ReidJanice MaddenChristine Bae


Neil ReidRichard ChurchMark Partridge


Neil ReidDan RickmanPeter Stenberg


Neil ReidAlessandra FaggianPeter Stenberg


Neil ReidMark PartridgeMark Brown


Neil ReidStephan GoetzTony Grubesic


Neil ReidKara KockelmanHaifeng Qian
2021Neil ReidSteve DellerJason Brown
2022John SporingBruce NewboldAmanda Ross

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