Human-Centered Solutions for Louisiana's Prosperity: A Demographic LensINSIGHT INTO DEAN TROY BLANCHARD'S RESEARCH AND HOW THE LSU COLLEGE OF HUMANITIES & SOCIAL SCIENCES WILL ADVANCE THE SCHOLARSHIP FIRST AGENDA
A Discussion with Troy Blanchard
Please briefly describe your research. How did you decide to focus on this particular area? How is it important to you?
In my research I intersect the study of demography and data science to help explain why we observe dramatic variation in the prosperity of communities. For example, access to healthy foods is linked to better diet and health, but we know that some residential areas exist in a food desert, where healthy foods are difficult to obtain. An important part of this explanation is rooted in understanding how social organizations, such as religious organizations, and nonprofits, and the local business infrastructure, such as entrepreneurs and locally owned businesses, shape human connectedness. Communities with more dense and integrated connections among residents often perform better on measures of health, life expectancy, safety, and economic development.
What impacts have you seen from your research? How have these impacts shaped your career?
One of the important impacts of my research has been to help state and local policy leaders understand the population dynamics of our state. This has taken place in part through providing expert analysis and commentary to forecast Louisiana population trends using a variety of data sources. Furthermore, I collaborate with the LSU AgCenter to apply my demographic expertise to develop annual population estimates for urban and rural municipalities in Louisiana. Collectively, these efforts inform planning efforts to drive the economic development of our state.
How does your research relate to LSU’s Scholarship First Agenda? How can the humanities and social sciences, and the College of Humanities & Social Sciences in particular, impact and serve Louisiana?
My research applies a human-centric framework to address many of the important challenges outlined in the Scholarship First Agenda. For instance, I have worked with research teams at LSU to understand how major disasters impact human communities. I am also applying my work as a demographer to understand the key challenges facing higher education over the next decade. This involves analyzing population data to accurately measure student demand and informing policy aimed at retaining LSU graduates to forward the economic development of our state. Specifically, my research interests provide a human-centered understanding of how communities buffer the impact of volatility on population well-being. These are just a few examples of the many ways HSS faculty contribute to the Scholarship First Agenda and impact and serve Louisiana.