S4 began to take shape in 2002 as scholars in several different social science disciplines recognized the need to develop a stronger spatial analysis capacity at Brown University. S4 was formally established in 2003 to “make Brown a highly visible international center for research that investigates human behavior in its social and spatial context.” In Fall 2002 an ad hoc committee of faculty that included the chairs of Sociology, Economics, Political Science, Urban Studies, and the Taubman Center submitted a formal proposal to establish an “Initiative in Geosocial Interactions.” S4 was formally approved in 2003 by Brown’s Academic Priorities Committee under the S4 name: Spatial Structures in the Social Sciences.
In spring 2004, S4 announced the appointment of John Logan, a sociologist and formerly Director of the Lewis Mumford Center for Comparative Urban and Regional Research, University at Albany, as its first Director. The growing S4 staff has been provided newly renovated space in Maxcy Hall in the center of the Brown campus. S4 has also been designated as the Spatial Analysis Core for the Population Studies and Training Center, and this institutional connection has proved valuable for both programs.
S4 now counts over 40 faculty affiliates from departments across the campus, not just the social sciences. In addition the S4 Graduate Fellows Program includes a growing number of graduate students who have gained the skills to incorporate spatial thinking and tools in their research.