Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Thursday, April 5, 2012

Policy symposium to explore Wisconsin Idea

La Follette School of Public Affairs faculty will link public policy to the Wisconsin Idea in an afternoon symposium on Thursday, April 26, in Memorial Union's Tripp Commons. The symposium, "The Wisconsin Idea at 100: Making the Link to Policy," starts at 11:45 a.m.

"We could think of no better way to contribute to this yearlong celebration of UW-Madison's trademark Wisconsin Idea than by acknowledging the importance of informed policymaking in our society – and our part in it," says Tom DeLeire, director of the La Follette School. "For more than 25 years, the La Follette School has played an integral role in providing expert assistance to state policymakers, and we expect to continue that in the future as we meet the Legislature's requirement that we provide teaching, research and outreach in ways of improving our residents' lives."

Advisory board to meet

Members of the La Follette School Advisory Board will attend parts of the April 26 Wisconsin Idea Symposium before convening in the evening for dinner and a meeting.

The board meets annually to advise La Follette faculty on branding, internships, jobs, networking and strategic development.

Members are Eric Stanchfield, 1982, Michael Youngman, 1982, Jennie Mauer, 2008, and Peggy LeMahieu, 1985; and friends of the school Eric Fine and Joe Quinn.

Conference organizer Don Moynihan, La Follette's associate director, agrees. "Today, more than ever, the La Follette School exemplifies the Wisconsin Idea," he says.

"We do so through a multidisciplinary emphasis on service and scholarship that allows us to take on problems of public policy and governance," Moynihan adds. "Our faculty, students, and staff practice the Wisconsin Idea across the state and around the world on issues that include the design and management of social welfare programs, international currency and trade, analysis of the effects of welfare reform, health-care reform and determinants of health, environmental policy, public management and finance, Social Security, and science and technology."

The opening panel features three professors exploring the evolution of the Wisconsin Idea, the emphasis on the university serving the entire state and the more focused role of experts providing assistance to state policymakers. John Witte, Bob Haveman and Tom DeLeire will discuss the history of the Wisconsin Idea and its relationship to public policy, with specific examples of how UW-Madison initiatives shaped state, national, and international policy and practice.

Three sessions examine public policy areas and how Wisconsin has served as a laboratory for crafting national and international policy. At 1 p.m., Maria Cancian and Tim Smeeding will look at families and health. Cancian will discuss child support policy, and Smeeding will discuss his work in measuring poverty in Wisconsin. At 1:45 p.m., two panels will examine financial policy. Menzie Chinn will discuss the Great Recession, while faculty affiliate J. Michael Collins will touch on financial literacy.

Wisconsin as a laboratory is the topic of the 2:30 panel, with Pamela Herd, co-director of the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, on public health and Christopher Kucharik, an assistant professor of agronomy and environmental studies, on climate change and Wisconsin agriculture.

La Follette School students will talk about their role in public policy at 3:15 p.m. using examples of their capstone research projects for real-world clients. The afternoon concludes with a 4 p.m. keynote panel featuring chancellor David Ward and former chancellor John Wiley, a professor of public affairs, and educational leadership and policy analysis.

The event is free and open to the public. No registration is required. For further information contact Terry Shelton, outreach director, at 608-262-3038 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..