The Wisconsin Ideas Conference is back for its second year, bringing students interested in government and public policy a unique opportunity to publish and refine their ideas, participate in lively discussions, and earn scholarships. Applications for the conference, April 12–14 at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, are due Saturday, January 26 at 11:59 p.m. (CST).
Applicants must submit a brief overview (approximately 100 words) of a policy problem they plan to address during the conference, which is organized by students in the La Follette School of Public Affairs and Department of Political Science at UW–Madison. Organizers intend to create space for students to engage with current issues through public policy, discuss their ideas with peers and experts, and gain from regional and international perspectives, said La Follette School student Signe Janoska-Bedi, who is leading the conference for the second year.
Participants are expected to prepare a three- to five-page policy memorandum before the conference, and those doing so will be eligible for several scholarships. The Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership will provide two scholarships for the best policy memos written on the future of transportation policy.
During the spring semester, participants will edit their memos with their peers. Policy memos that exceed expectations will be published in the fall 2019 edition of Sifting & Winnowing, an undergraduate academic journal here at UW-Madison. The conference will include several workshops, where participants will give short overviews of their policy proposals, professors will offer comments, and the workshop coordinator will facilitate a short conversation on the topic. In addition, organizers are planning panel discussions about affordable housing, immigration and the economy, and election security.
More than 50 students and professors from across campus and as far away as Croatia participated in last year’s conference. MacArthur Fellow Will Allen, an urban farmer in Milwaukee, was the 2018 keynote speaker. “The Wisconsin Idea invokes such strong feelings of civic duty and of service to one’s community,” said Janoska-Bedi. “This conference distills that vision into accessible components such as workshops, panel discussions, and policy memos so it’s easy for participants to make meaningful, real contributions to public policy discourse.”