Introducing: The Wisconsin Open Education Community Fellowships

With more than 18,400 undergraduate students on our campus hailing from communities across Wisconsin, it is clear that the UW-Madison campus reflects more than just the state’s capital population. From Milwaukee to Rhinelander and small farms to big cities, our students bring diverse perspectives and ideas with them wherever they go.

In 2015, through a partnership between the Morgridge Center for Public Service, the Division of Continuing Studies and Educational Innovation, UW-Madison aims to tap into the creative ideas and local expertise of undergraduate students from Wisconsin through the Wisconsin Open Education Community Fellowship (WOECF).

An inaugural program that will be housed in the Morgridge Center for Public Service, WOECF will build on the existing Wisconsin Idea Undergraduate Fellowship program by selecting and funding original undergraduate research and community engagement projects that are designed to serve the students’ own Wisconsin communities.

Faculty and instructional staff will have an important role in these engagement projects by mentoring fellowship recipients and engaging with them in community-based outreach projects. By working with students who are familiar with Wisconsin communities, faculty will have an opportunity to broaden their understanding of the ideas and needs of citizens around our state. Faculty mentors will also receive a stipend to support their work with students.

What makes WOECF unique is that the fellowship opportunity complements our campus’ existing Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) efforts, which aim to bring six free, open online learning experiences to individuals across the state and around the world.

“This program honors the Wisconsin Idea by enabling our undergraduate students to develop projects with people in their home communities. There is so much wisdom, energy, and desire to serve the public among our students. We are very excited to connect with people across the state in this way,” said Kathy Cramer, interim director of the Morgridge Center for Public Service.

WOECF applicants will be required to sign up for and participate in one of the first three MOOCs being offered by UW-Madison in 2015. Through their project proposals, students must demonstrate how they will develop summer projects that engage with the themes and questions being addressed in the MOOCs.


Applicants can choose from three MOOCs:

  • The Land Ethic Reclaimed: Perceptive Hunting, Aldo Leopold, and Conservation, which explores the historical legacy of wildlife management and recreational hunting as part of conservation, the role of wildlife in ecosystems, the importance of ethics in guiding hunter choices, and conservation. The MOOC will also examine Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic.
  • Changing Weather and Climate in the Great Lakes Region, which will explore the four seasons, Great Lakes weather, observed changes in climate and the societal impacts of climate change. The MOOC will discuss how the location of the Great Lakes region and the influence of freshwater lakes combine to create unique weather systems.
  • Shakespeare in Community, which will cover four of Shakespeare’s plays and ask participants to explore deep questions about what it means to be human. The MOOC will also build a global community around the study of Shakespeare and explore what it means to rediscover and uncover Shakespeare’s works in the digital age.

Fellowship recipients will work in close collaboration with a community partner and a faculty mentor to develop and execute projects that will create engagement opportunities for Wisconsin citizens—opportunities that will be informed as much by local interests, perspectives and needs as by the students’ interests.

“This program is one way to enhance the student learning experience by providing service and community-based learning opportunities and encouraging undergraduates to give back to their Wisconsin roots in meaningful ways,” said Steve Cramer, vice provost for teaching and learning. “It’s about inspiring students to address some of the big questions facing communities today by working with those communities”

Current UW-Madison students interested in applying for the Wisconsin Open Education Community Fellowship can find more information and application materials online. Applications are open beginning Dec. 15 and the deadline to apply is March 26, 2015.


For more information on UW-Madison’s Massive Open Online Courses, visit


By: David Giroux