The Wisconsin Idea

The Wisconsin Idea is a century-old dream of sharing the best of higher education with the entire state — bringing the values of the liberal arts, scientific knowledge and search for truth to everyone. It's a cherished tradition, but is it working? In this special episode recorded in front of a live audience in Madison, To the Best of Our Knowledge explores the political, racial and literary dimensions of the Wisconsin Idea.

The first segment below is the link to the entire show, and below that you'll find the individual interviews.

The Wisconsin Idea (Special)

If you live in Wisconsin, chances are you've heard of the Wisconsin Idea. It's the century-old dream of sharing the best of higher education with the entire state -- bringing the values of the liberal arts, scientific knowledge and search for truth to everyone. It's a cherished tradition, but is it working? In this special episode recorded in front of a live audience in Madison, To the Best of Our Knowledge explores the political, racial and literary dimensions of the Wisconsin Idea.

A State of Resentment

For nearly a decade, political scientist Kathy Cramer has been travelling throughout rural Wisconsin, talking with groups of people at small cafes, gas stations, and other popular local gathering spots. Through her conversations with ordinary Wisconsinites, she's discovered a growing resentment between the state's rural and academic communities. She tells Steve Paulson that the dream of the Wisconsin Idea isn't connecting with many of the state's rural residents.

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How Racism Undermines the Wisconsin Idea

Rev. Alex Gee grew up in the shadow of the UW campus in Madison, and today is one of the city's senior ministers. Yet like many African American men he's been the victim of racial profiling in his own hometown. Rev. Gee spoke to Charles Monroe Kane about the everyday realities of racism and classism, and how they lock people out of the Wisconsin Idea.

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The Natural Beauty of the Wisconsin Idea

Many recent conversations about the Wisconsin Idea have focused on the politics and controversies around it, but all the negative attention ignores the fact that at its core, it's an aspirational vision commited to truth and public education. Wisconsin poet laureate Kimberly Blaeser joined Anne Strainchamps to talk about the beauty behind the Wisconsin Idea, and how it reflects the natural world.

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