New Grant Program Connects Wisconsin Idea to Statewide Research

For nearly 120 years, the Wisconsin Idea has shaped UW–Madison and the university’s commitment to public service. Based on the principle that education should influence people’s lives beyond the boundaries of the classroom, the Wisconsin Idea has become the guiding philosophy of university outreach efforts, both within the state and throughout the world.

The UW Extension Program has a long history of bringing the Wisconsin Idea to all corners of the state. The program employs locally based educators to deliver evidence-based programming for farmers and 4-H youth. Extension also helps address specific issues in local communities by sharing expertise on natural resources, family, financial, and economic development, health, and well-being.

A new grant program, the Wisconsin Idea Collaboration Grant series, aims to leverage relationships built by Extension programs across the state to showcase how communities can both inform and benefit from university research. Jointly sponsored by Extension and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education, the program will kickstart applied research and the development of innovative outreach efforts that address community needs and priorities.

In its inaugural year, the program funded 11 projects that will use Extension networks in new research that will help strengthen and expand the links between Extension and UW–Madison.

CDE affiliate Malia Jones of the Applied Population Lab is the primary investigator for one of the newly funded projects: “Targeting Online Health Misinformation for Rural Wisconsinites.” Together with colleagues from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, the Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, and Extension Health Communications, Jones will examine the information disparity in rural Wisconsin with an eye toward strategies and resources to help community leaders effectively address misinformation problems.