Exterior of Nancy Nicholas Hall in the evening, with lamps and windows glowing.
News & Events

SoHE Centers take part in Food and the Wisconsin Idea Network

SoHE’s long history of applied human ecology scholarship has always focused on the interconnectedness of key issues in our society with the well-being of individuals, families, and communities. Doing this work at UW-Madison offers the incredible opportunity to have an almost unlimited multidisciplinary scope in our ways of looking at problems.  From our place within a world-class R1 research university, we are able to connect and collaborate with experts from the broadest possible range of disciplines.

Sandra Gokee Nevala; Ojibwe traditional hunter and harvester, presents on her experiences and knowledge of traditional foods, equipment and processes.

With this history in mind, the SoHE Centers of Excellence have become involved with the “Food and Wisconsin Idea” network.  This network provides a compelling illustration of the way key themes in society impact us all and the interconnectedness of a variety of influences and disciplines — all centered on the topic of food! Since the 2016-17 academic year,  faculty, students, and community practitioners and members have formalized the network to include monthly informational sessions and networking opportunities, as well as a host of communication networks that keep members of the network connected. An active and vibrant Facebook page helps to keep our wide range of stakeholders informed and engaged.

A core group of lead campus units continues to collaborate to plan, host, and promote our regular convenings.  This group is comprised of the Nelson Institute, the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, the Center for Integrated Agriculture, the Kauffman Lab/Department of Planning and Landscape Architecture, UW-Extension, and our own SoHE Centers.

Past monthly sessions have included fascinating discussions around City of Madison and local nonprofit efforts to promote creative food production, advocacy for food policy in the City of Milwaukee, effective organic farming practices, indigenous food practices, and mission-based efforts to address food security across the state. In Fall 2017, the network hosted events that included a talk with author Andy Fisher that explored the root causes of chronic hunger.  We also hosted an informal discussion with Natasha Bowens author of “The Color of Food: Stories of Race, Resilience and Farming,” it was a lively conversation that focused on her work in exploring the issues of justice and inclusivity in the food movement. Together, our monthly events have been attended by hundreds of UW-Madison faculty, staff, and students, as well as community experts.


Natasha Bowens at podium
Natasha Bowens.

eggplant at farmer's marketWe are thrilled with the possibilities for the way this network can keep folks from across UW-Madison connected with each other and with community collaborators.  This network offers a fertile context for our own Centers, faculty, and students to continue SoHE’s long history of examining food issues and the way food impacts our lives — including issues of food security, access, production; health and obesity; and sustainable communities.

The depth and breadth of the discourse, inquiry, and impact advanced by the Food and the Wisconsin Idea network underscores an extremely simple but true quip — “we are what we eat!”

To learn more about upcoming Food and the Wisconsin Idea events, please e-mail us at: foodandwisconsinidea@gmail.com