Population Studies is the study of human populations issues. Population can be measured and defined by size, growth, age structure, spatial distribution, fertility and mortality rates, migration, and more. There are many different aspects to Population Studies. Environmentally, Population Studies help us to understand human effects on natural resources, the environment, and human health. Understanding these effects can lead to programs and policies that help mitigate the negative impacts people have on the environment.
Broadly, there are two major problems with population; overpopulation (having more people in an area than the medical, economic and environmental structures can support), and what is sometimes called overconsumption - a population which consumes a disproportionate amount of resources and/or creates more than its share of waste. Taken together, these two issues cause many ecological problems. Environmental professionals in the field of Population Studies work with groups, agencies and individuals to understand and control these problems.
Population Studies can also refer to ecological studies of the population of species in an area.
The Academic Requirements
Students in Population Studies programs learn the theory, history and practical applications of the field. Students typically study the social, economic, anthropological, medical, and environmental aspects of the field. Many conduct research projects at the graduate and post-graduate levels.
Those who plan to work in the international arena should take geography and culture courses. It helps to be multilingual, even if working in one's own country. Sensitivity to the different social and cultural needs of groups is essential; for example, different cultures have different ideas about family planning, reproductive freedom, and natural resource exploitation. The ability to work within the parameters of conflicting cultural and social ideals is essential for solving today's population issues.
Here are some courses that we've seen:
- Basic Methods in Demography
- Population Processes
- Economics of Labor and Population
- Growth Theory
- Health and Population Economics
- Social Demography
- Issues in Anthropology and Population
- Population & Development
- Research Design & Analysis
- Family Planning Programs
- Environmental Epidemiology
- Medical Anthropology in Epidemiology
- Analyzing Survey & Population Data
- Environment, Health & Sustainable Development
Most professionals in the field have advanced degrees that allow them to conduct research in the field. Graduates may find jobs with non-governmental organizations, public health and social services agencies, research institutions, health services, and universities.
Others in Population Studies work are in policymaking. They inform the public and political leaders on population issues. Agencies such as the United Nations and NGO's work with governments to try to solve population issues. Professionals in these fields need to possess excellent communication skills and enjoy working with people. It is helpful to be able to speak more than one language. An understanding of cultural issues is also important.
Here are some job titles that we've seen, including some of the organizations that offer them, all of which included a requirement for experience in Population Studies:
- Postdoctoral Fellow in Anthropology and Population (Brown University)
- Monitoring & Evaluation Specialist (University of North Carolina Population Center)
- Research Associate (University of North Carolina Population Center)
- Associate Research Scientist (World Bank Poverty Mapping)
- Research Scientist (Center for International Earth Science Information Network)
- President and CEO (Citizens for Global Solutions)
- Vice President for Sustainable Programs (The Conservation Fund)
- Professor in Economic Demography (Florida State University)
- Statistical Demographer (Geospace International) Associate Professor (University of Hawaii) Program Director (National Science Foundation) Intern (U.S. Census Bureau)
- Brown University, Population Studies & Training Center
- Chulalongkorn University, College of Population Studies
- European Association for Population Studies
- Population Association of America, Job Announcements
- United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division
- University of London, School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, MSc in Demography & Health
- University of Michigan, Population Studies Center
- University of Michigan, Population Studies Center, External Positions Postings
- University of Pennsylvania, Population Studies Center