WI Ideas Conference FAQs

Here are a few Frequently Asked Questions about the WI Ideas Conference (April 12 – 14). If you have more questions, feel free to message us on our Facebook page.

Applications closed on January 26th: https://tinyurl.com/wiscideas

  • What is the conference schedule?

Friday, April 12th 2019

8:00 PM Welcome Reception at the Rigby, 119 E Main St

Saturday, April 13th 2019 (Union South, 1308 W Dayton St)

8:30 AM Opening Address
9:00 AM Panel – Immigration and the Economy
10:30 AM First Workshop
12:00 PM Networking Lunch
1:30 PM Panel – Election Security
3:00 PM Coffee Break
3:30 PM Second Workshop
5:00 PM Memo Review
8:00 PM Dinner Reception at Crandall’s Bistro, 334 State St

Sunday, April 14th 2019 (Union South, 1308 W Dayton St)

8:30 AM Morning Reception
9:00 AM Panel – Affordable Housing
11:00 AM Keynote Address
12:30 PM Awards & Closing

  • When is the application due, what does it ask us to prepare, and when will we hear back?

The application is due January 26th, 2019. We ask that each applicant submit a very short overview (no more than 100 words) of the policy memo they would like to prepare for the conference. Here’s a link to our application. You can expect to hear back from us within a week of the application deadline.

  • Who are the event sponsors?

Great question! Our partners include the UW-Madison Department of Political Science, the La Follette School of Public Affairs, the Thompson Center on Public Leadership, and the Wisconsin Union Directorate.

  • What do you mean by Policy Memo and why does everyone write one for this conference?

Policy memos are a standard format for communicating ideas in public policy. We want to give y’all an opportunity to publish a 3-5 page proposal on an issue that you care about deeply. This is a great way to build your resume — and you’ll have the opportunity to network with policy experts at the conference, who will offer you direct feedback on your memo. Finally, for those folks who prepare exceptionally powerful memos, we offer a number of merit-based scholarships for up to $500!

  • I am interested in attending the conference but don’t go to UW-Madison. Will their be housing accommodations or travel stipends offered?

Yes and yes! Our local participants will lodge all non-Madison conference participants. We, along with our partners, offer a number of merit-based scholarships (usually ranging from $50-100) to students who write quality policy memos. More details can be found on the conference application.

  • Do we need to write policy memos that adhere to one of the four Workshop topics, or are we allowed to expand beyond that?

We invite folks to self-sort into the Workshop that is a best-fit for their interests, and we offer you the freedom to expand beyond that topic when writing your memo. We tried to make our Workshops (Social Policy, Security Policy, Science Policy, and Electoral Reform) as broad as possible but understand it won’t always be a perfect fit.

  • How do I earn a scholarship at the WI Ideas conference?

We offer a number of scholarships to participants who submit quality policy memos to the WI Ideas Conference. In 2019, these include:

  1. Thompson Center Scholarships — two scholarships (one $500, one $250) for the best policy memos written on the future of transportation policy.
  2. Bedi Family Scholarships — several scholarships (amount varies, but usually $50) for non-Madison participants who prepare quality policy memos on any topic, in order to assist with the cost of transportation to the conference.
  3. Top-Class Memo Scholarships — several $100 scholarships for quality policy memos on any topic that substantially exceeded expectations.

Recipients are selected by the professors and Workshop coordinators that advise each Workshop.

  • What is the point of having Workshops?

Workshops are a great environment to lead a facilitated discussion on participant policy memos. Participants will give a short overview of their policy proposals, professors will offer comments, and the Workshop coordinator will facilitate a short conversation on the topic, inviting all participants to offer their thoughts and ask questions. Workshops are a great way for participants to network and develop relationships with the professors and students that they meet.

  • How do Panels work into all of this?

In addition to our Workshop sessions, we invite a number of policy experts to participate in Panel discussions over the course of the conference. These panels — which give panelists an opportunity to speak before opening up to discussion — are more geared toward learning than memo-review. The topics of these panels will be:

  1. Affordable Housing
  2. Immigration and the Economy
  3. Election Security