Students to honor the Wisconsin Idea in spring policy conference

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.

The conference, which will run from April 12-14 this year, is a partnership between students in the Wisconsin Department of Political Science, editors of the undergraduate policy journal Sifting & Winnowing, the La Follette School of Public Affairs, the Thompson Center for Public Leadership, and the Wisconsin Union. Its hosts 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.

“The idea for this conference started as early as 2016,” says conference director Signe Janoska-Bedi, “when a couple friends with shared interest in public policy started talking about how they could take ownership of their role in developing public policy, and decided to plan an event.”

Participating students will submit a policy memo addressing a conference theme, edit the memo with peers over the course of the spring semester, be published in Sifting & Winnowing, and discuss their work with other students and experts at a series of workshops and panel events. Some of this year’s themes include election security, immigration and the economy, and housing affordability and scarcity.

Last year’s conference was attended by students and professors representing diverse disciplines on campus, as well as by guests from as far away as Croatia. This year, conference hosts expect even better turnout, and have extended more invitations to both regional and international participants.

Anyone interested in participating in the conference can do so by submitting a short policy memo abstract at by 11:59:59 PM CST on January 26.  Participants will also have an opportunity to earn scholarships for travel and quality memos, as well as network with a number of experts and professionals.

“The Wisconsin Idea invokes such strong feelings of civic duty, of service the one’s community,” says Signe Janoska-Bedi, “and this conference distills that vision into accessible components — like Workshops, Panels, and Policy Memos — so it’s easy for participants to make meaningful, real contributions to public policy discourse.”