The Wisconsin Idea
The 'Wisconsin Idea' grew out of the progressive movement in Wisconsin, and was the concept of drawing on the intellectual expertise of the University of Wisconsin to create and run independent commissions in such areas as banking, insurance, and natural resources. Cooper, Why Wisconsin, 2004"
Curti and Carstensen in their history of the University of Wisconsin say of President John Bascom, "It is little wonder that long after Bascom left Wisconsin he was recognized as the pioneer of the Wisconsin Idea, especially insofar as the faculty of the University undertook to give their services as experts to promote the well-being of the people. Robert La Follette, a student of Bascom, later wrote that to Bascom, the fuiding spirit of his time, Wisconsin owed a greater debt than it could ever pay: ahead of his time in sensing the new social forces and in emphasizing the new social responsibilities, La Follette continued, Bascom was forever pointing out to the students all that the sate was doing for them and urging them to repay the state with disinterested service. Bascom, La Follette concluded, encouraged the students of his day to develop a proper attitude toward public affairs; in Bascom's teaching was born the Wisconsin idea of education. History
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