About the Morrison Institute
The world’s population and its growth rate are at unprecedented levels. This growth profoundly affects our environment, the pressure on natural resources, and the capacity of many nations to achieve sustainable socioeconomic development. The problem that we face is how to stimulate economic development to meet rapidly expanding human needs while ensuring that we do not destroy the natural resources and environment on which all life ultimately depends.
A new kind of scholar is required to address the many components that contribute to this enormous endeavor, one familiar with global issues through the perspectives of population biology, economics, and social and medical sciences. The search for new approaches to these complex problems demands interdisciplinary cooperation and new modes of collaboration and communication.
Stanford University’s response to the concerns about population-related global issues, and the research and educational needs pertaining to them, is the creation of the Morrison Institute for Population and Resource Studies (MIPRS), led by Director Marcus W. Feldman, Burnet C. and Mildred Finley Wohlford Professor of Biological Sciences. This interdisciplinary program brings together faculty members and courses in numerous departments and programs: Chemistry, Human Biology, Biological Sciences, Genetics, Mathematics, Civil Engineering, the Hoover Institution, the Food Research Institute, the Public Policy Program, Statistics, Anthropology, Economics, Sociology, the Medical School, and the Center for Conservation Biology.
The objective of the Institute is to lead this interdisciplinary study of population growth and its effects on social structures, national economies, resource availability, and the environment throughout the world. The three major facets to this endeavor — research, education, and contribution to the formation of policy — overlap in the major programs of the institute.
International exchange. The visiting fellows’ program bring to Stanford scholars from developed and less-developed countries to study population, environment, resource management, and sustainable development. Through this arm of the program, joint research projects have been established with the Population Research Institute of Xi’an Jiaotong University, People’s Republic of China, and with the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow.
Student support. Through the grants and training program, the institute helps sponsor research projects by Stanford students, usually in fieldwork that contributes to their dissertations and to the study of population problems (e.g., on-site study of population growth as a factor in the destruction of the tropical forests of Latin America). About eighty students have been supported in this way, with the numbers growing each year. In addition, a couple dozen interdisciplinary courses are available, and students majoring in Human Biology and Public Policy can specialize in population studies.
Education. The annual Winter Colloquium, which is available for course credit, presents a range of lectures designed to highlight the significance of an interdisciplinary perspective drawing on the physical, natural, medical, and social sciences. Workshops and seminars allow the exchange of ideas among faculty of different disciplines and between researchers and policy makers (e.g., Human Demography and Natural Resources). The planning of a major, international, five-year study of human genetic diversity is being administered through the Institute.
Institute reports and studies are available to the general public and especially to world leaders and government authorities. The institute cooperates with school systems, public-policy makers, nongovernmental organizations, coalitions of professional bodies, and student and faculty groups (e.g., Global Tomorrow Coalition, Forum of International Development Organizations) to organize conferences and to produce study materials, policy papers, and articles on matters pertaining to population, environment, resources, and development.
Morrison Institute Board of Directors:
Director: Marcus W. Feldman
Member: William H. Durham (Department of Anthropology)
Member: Paul R. Ehrlich (Department of Biology)
Member: Lawrence H. Goulder (Department of Economics, Institute for International Studies)
Member: Li Shuzhuo (Institute for Population and Development Studies, Xi’an Jiaotong University, Xi’an, China)
Member: Shripad Tuljapurkar (Department of Biology)(Associate Director of the Institute)