If you are a part of the UW–Madison campus community, odds are you have heard about the Wisconsin Idea.
One of the university’s long-standing traditions, the Wisconsin Idea holds that education should influence people’s lives beyond the boundaries of the classroom. This mission propels the university’s work in Madison, around Wisconsin and across state lines to the rest of the world.
However, to fulfill the vision of the Wisconsin Idea, a key question must be answered: Are we, as a university, ready to engage with our community meaningfully?
The 2023 Wisconsin Idea Conference tackles this question by examining our relationship to the Wisconsin Idea through the lens of community-university engagement. Hosted by the Morgridge Center for Public Service, the first-of-its-kind conference on campus will bring together community-engaged scholars, staff, students and local leaders to deepen our understanding of our state and local community and reflect upon how we cultivate a culture of community engagement at UW–Madison.
“The Wisconsin Idea Conference is really an opportunity for folks interested in community engagement to gather and learn about how our university is already engaged with local communities while also exploring avenues for better engagement,” says Cory Sprinkel, the Morgridge Center’s community-engaged scholarship specialist.
The Wisconsin Idea Conference will be held on Monday, March 27 at Union South with select talks streamed online. Registration closes on Sunday, March 12. Faculty, staff, and students who have an interest in university-community engagement are encouraged to attend. Community partners are also welcome, though the conference’s content is designed for campus audiences for this first iteration of the event.
UW–Madison Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin will give opening remarks. The conference’s keynote speaker is Reverend Judge Everett Mitchell, who was elected to the Dane County Circuit Court and previously served as the UW–Madison’s director of community Relations.
The conference features speakers from across the community, including faculty and community partners connected to the UniverCity Alliance, a program that connects UW to projects with local governments. A lunchtime panel will highlight the voices of local leaders in the South Madison Community. Breakout sessions will showcase examples of community partnership from multiple disciplines, including the Indigenous Learning Lab project through Curriculum and Instruction and Esperanza, a partnership between Centro Hispano and Counseling Psychology focused on culturally appropriate mental health services.
“We want to highlight outstanding work that’s already going on and provide an opportunity, particularly for those who may have not done as much community engagement, on where to start,” says Haley Madden, the Morgridge Center’s assistant director of community-engaged scholarship.
“It’s also a chance for community engagement practitioners to reflect on some of the challenges and questions that come up in their day-to-day work and help solve some of those problems to move our university forward.”
Tickets provide access to the full day of events, which includes breakfast, lunch, and a snack. Tickets are free for community partners, community members, and undergraduate and graduate students. UW Standard Registration ($34) is appropriate for those who have professional development funds to support their attendance. For those who would like to help offset the cost of tickets for others to attend, consider purchasing the UW Sponsorship Registration ($64).
“We don’t want cost to be a barrier for anyone, so any individual who needs a no-cost registration can have one,” Madden says. “Sponsors ensure we can offer those registrations for people who need some financial support.”
Sponsors will be highlighted in conference promotional materials. Organizations that have already pledged sponsorship include: UniverCity Alliance, UW–Madison Community Relations, and the Division of Extension.