Living the Wisconsin Idea

Partner with the community and the state to extend and apply our research, education, and practice-based knowledge to foster learning and support innovation and prosperity through Wisconsin.

Aerial view of the Madison isthmus at night looking north-west from Lake Monona, with the capitol building in the center of the photograph.

1. Engage with the community to provide positive social, cultural, and economic impact in Wisconsin and beyond.

Example initiatives:

DreamUp Wisconsin

The Alliance for the American Dream selected the UW as one of its four university partners in promoting shared prosperity in local communities. The DreamUp Wisconsin initiative funds innovative proposals (either policy ideas or investable concepts) that would increase the net income of 10,000 Dane County families by 10 percent.

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Morgridge Center for Public Service

The Morgridge Center for Public Service connects UW students, staff, and faculty to local and global communities through service and learning. The center’s Badger Volunteers program pairs teams of students with local community organizations for semester-long service projects. Some 800 UW students combine to serve more than 30,000 hours each year.

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Extension at UW–Madison

The UW Division of Extension is strengthening the connection between the university and the state’s 72 counties through research support and community outreach. Extension has an office in each county and develops practical programs tailored to local needs. The division rejoined UW–Madison as part of the 2018 UW System restructuring.

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Potted soybean plants grow under greenhouse lights at the Wisconsin Crop Innovation Center

2. Promote entrepreneurship, innovation, and economic development in Wisconsin and beyond.

Example initiatives:

Discovery to Product

Serving as a centralized support network for campus entrepreneurs, Discovery to Product (D2P) provides free consultation, coaching, and educational courses to UW faculty, staff, and students who have big ideas. D2P helps campus inventors through every step of the process: ideation, planning, developing, and launching.

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Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is a university-affiliated nonprofit organization that stewards the UW’s cycle of research, discovery, and commercialization. Among the most successful technology transfer offices in the nation, WARF patents, licenses, and protects UW discoveries and manages a large investment portfolio derived from the revenues. Its annual grant of tens of millions of dollars to the UW fuels continued innovation.

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Office of Business Engagement

The Office of Business Engagement was established in 2018 to help state and national industry connect with the UW’s vast resources. The office is helping to facilitate a record number of industry research partnerships, sponsorship opportunities, student recruitment efforts, and executive education programs.

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UW–Madison students are depicted on a pier conducting a bird playback survey on a small lake at Kemp Natural Resources Station.

3. Share the benefits of a world-class teaching and research university throughout Wisconsin and beyond our borders.

Example initiatives:

Wisconsin Academy for Rural Medicine

Wisconsin is facing a significant shortage of physicians in rural areas, with 60 of the state’s 72 counties designated as underserved. The UW School of Medicine and Public Health is aiming to reduce the disparity through the Wisconsin Academy for Rural Medicine. The four-year program admits medical students who intend to practice rural medicine and tailors the curriculum to the needs of rural areas.

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UW Odyssey Project

The UW Odyssey Project offers a free college-level humanities course to adult students facing economic barriers to college. Alumni of the program report that they read more to their children, are better advocates for their children in school, and have more hope about their own futures. And some have been inspired to pursue college degrees.

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UniverCity Alliance

Since 2016, UW–Madison has partnered with designated Wisconsin cities and counties through the UniverCity Alliance to address local challenges and work on high-impact projects. Faculty, students, and community partners work on a wide variety of issues, such as flood mitigation, child-care affordability, and jail inmate re-entry strategies.

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