New database shows Wisconsin Idea in Action

A new searchable, online database called the Wisconsin Idea in Action, which documents hundreds of examples of UW–Madison’s service to the state, made its campus debut this week. The database, which can be accessed from The Wisconsin Idea in Action, is the latest in a series of external relations efforts highlighting UW–Madison’s commitment to the century-old legacy of the Wisconsin Idea.“For more than 100 years, the Wisconsin Idea has been bringing our teaching, research and outreach into communities throughout the state. The Wisconsin Idea in Action is a major step toward documenting the breadth and depth of our faculty, staff and students’ commitment to public service,” says Provost Patrick Farrell.

The database was developed by the Wisconsin Idea Project (WIP), which Farrell and Chancellor John D. Wiley established in 2006 as part of an ongoing effort to renew the spirit of the Wisconsin Idea at UW–Madison. In addition to the database, the project Web site features history, facts, profiles and news as it relates to the Wisconsin Idea.

More than 500 programs, projects and activities have been submitted to the database with each school and college represented across the campus. At this early stage, Farrell believes it is only scratching the surface.

“As projects are added to the list, a more complete picture of the Wisconsin Idea as it is practiced today will emerge,” Farrell says. “Not only will it demonstrate what we are doing, but it will be a tool to help us identify opportunities to do more.”

Each record includes a thumbnail description of the project and its outcomes, a list of external partners, a link to a related Web site and an e-mail link to the project leader.

Users of the site will be able to:

  • search the entire database by keyword;
  • browse the listings by school or college, by subject or by county;
  • scan more than 10,000 records of student teaching, training and internship sites at Wisconsin schools, businesses and health care facilities; and
  • view county-by-county enrollment and alumni totals.

“The people of Wisconsin are entitled to ask what we as a public university are doing that has relevance in their everyday lives and contributes to their communities in a meaningful way. The Wisconsin Idea in Action provides at least 500 answers to that question, with many more to come,” Farrell says.

Additions and updates to the database are accepted on an ongoing basis. Faculty and staff are encouraged to submit their work to the Wisconsin Idea in Action by entering a brief description and related information in the fill-in form at Wisconsin Idea Submission Form. As you will see, CALS is highlighted throughout the database. However, we encourage you to take the opportunity to submit your project or activity if it is not already posted. Please send any questions or additional submissions to Ben Miller at