APL has been an operational unit within the UW-Madison Department of Community and Environmental Sociology (fomerly Rural Sociology) since the early 1960s. The APL represents one component of the Department's research and outreach in the area of Population and Community. Faculty and staff in the APL collaborate on research with other faculty members in the department and also provide data assistance and technical expertise. The APL benefits directly from the intellectual and collegial community in the department and it has been a fertile environment for developing ideas, methods, and scholarship.
Several staff and faculty in the APL have Extension appointments and play a key role in carrying forward a program of demography for UW Extension. For the Extension staff in the APL, this program most often translates into providing training, data consulting and other forms of direct support and assistance through Extension's network of campus specialists and county-based educators, but it also is realized through collaborative applied research on emerging community and population issues in Wisconsin.
APL has a close link to the Center for Demography and Ecology (CDE). Community and Environmental Sociology faculty and academic staff with an interest in demographic research have long held affiliations with CDE. Through the years, the relationship has focused primarily on collaborative work on demographic research, graduate student training, and sharing of technical expertise and resources. More recently, the formation of the Geographic Information and Analysis Core in the APL has formalized the relationship and has increased a research and consulting role focused on engaging social science audiences in the use of geospatial data and spatial analysis methodologies.
APL has an affiliation with the U.S. Census Bureau through the State Data Center Program, a network of state and university agencies across the country partnering with the Census Bureau to provide access to census data and products, training related to census data and products, and feedback to the U.S. Census Bureau. The APL shares responsibilities with the Wisconsin Demographic Services Center for providing the State Data Center function for the state of Wisconsin. In this role, the APL disseminates data and provides outreach, training, and technology transfer focused on U.S. Census Bureau products and programs which respond to the needs of data users at the local level.
APL has encouraged collaboration and partnerships with researchers from a wide range of other departments and units at UW-Madison. Over the last several years, APL staff and faculty have worked with colleagues from Population Health Sciences, Family Medicine, Landscape Architecture, Urban and Regional Planning, the LaFollette School of Public Affairs, Human Development and Family Studies, the Institute for Research on Poverty, Forest and Wildlife Ecology, Educational Policy Studies, and many more.