In 1991, Professor Michael Sherraden published his ground-breaking book Assets and the Poor: A New American Welfare Policy, in which he proposed asset-building policy as a new approach to the development of families and communities.
The dean of the Brown School at that time, Shanti Khinduka, recognized the potential of these ideas to reshape thinking about public policy and invited Sherraden to serve as director of a new Center for Social Development (CSD). The center would focus on asset-building and other social development research.
After its founding in 1994, CSD designed and implemented research for the American Dream Demonstration, the first systematic test of asset-building policy in the United States. In subsequent years, CSD has broadened its focus. One major area of research is civic engagement and service, including a body of work in productive aging. In its 20th Anniversary year, CSD expanded its vision and its applied research a great deal more.
To date, CSD has authored more than 350 publications, including its books, working paper series, research and policy reports, and Congressional testimonies. CSD has grown to 15 full-time staff, more than 40 faculty directors and associates, and about 25 graduate student research associates and assistants each year.