Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Tuesday, August 2, 2016

La Follette School co-sponsors book talk on Bascom, Wisconsin Idea

La Follette School co-sponsors book talk on Bascom, Wisconsin Idea

The Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education (WISCAPE), University of Wisconsin Press, and Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs are sponsoring a book talk with David Hoeveler, author of John Bascom and the Origins of the Wisconsin Idea. The UW Press published the book earlier this year. 

The 90-minute discussion will be held Wednesday, September 28 at UW–Madison’s Education Building from noon to 1:30 p.m. Books will be available for purchase and signing by Hoeveler, a distinguished professor of history at UW–Milwaukee. Details are here

In the Progressive Era of American history, the state of Wisconsin gained national attention for its innovative economic and political reforms. Amidst this ferment, the “Wisconsin Idea” was popularized—the idea that a public university should improve the lives of people beyond the borders of its campus.

The Wisconsin Idea often is attributed to a 1904 speech by Charles Van Hise, president of the University of Wisconsin; however, Hoeveler argues that it originated decades earlier, in the creative and fertile mind of John Bascom, the University’s president from 1874 to 1887. Bascom’s ideas deeply influenced a generation of students at the University of Wisconsin, including Van Hise and Robert M. La Follette – both members of UW’s Class of 1879.

“La Follette especially, on many occasions, acknowledged a personal debt to Bascom,” Hoeveler said in an online question-and-answer article for Inside Higher Ed. “The students went on to play the most critical roles in implanting the Wisconsin idea, and I wanted to understand how Bascom might have influenced them and otherwise laid the intellectual foundation of the Wisconsin idea.”