Madison authors, topics, book events and publishers
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, time for the Wisconsin Book Festival, and Stu Levitan welcomes one of the featured presenters, University of Wisconsin Professor Chad Alan Goldberg, editor of an important new volume Education for Democracy: Renewing the Wisconsin Idea, from our very good friends at the University of Wisconsin Press. Prof. Goldberg will be giving a talk on his book live and in-person at the Madison Central Library on Saturday October 23, so Stu thought it would be a good idea to dial up an encore presentation of their conversation from this past March. And by the way, Stu’s show next week will feature another UW professor giving an in-person presentation on the 23rd, Prof. Jordan Ellenberg, talking about his best-seller, Shape.
According to Wisconsin statute 36.01(2), the mission of the university of Wisconsin system is “to develop human resources, to discover and disseminate knowledge, to extend knowledge and its application beyond the boundaries of its campuses and to serve and stimulate society by developing in students heightened intellectual, cultural and humane sensitivities, scientific, professional and technological expertise and a sense of purpose. Inherent in this broad mission are methods of instruction, research, extended training and public service designed to educate people and improve the human condition. Basic to every purpose of the system is the search for truth.”
But not everyone agrees with that mission – especially the parts of public service, improving the human condition, and searching for truth. And over the years some people in high places have sought to change that mission in fundamental ways, even destroy it outright. Leaving us with some very important questions.
What is the role of the public university in a democratic society? Specifically, what is the role of the University of Wisconsin in the democratic, pluralistic society of the 21st century? And, harking back to the words of UW President Charles Van Hise from 1905, does the beneficent influence of the university continue to reach every family in the state? If not, how do we ensure that it once again does?
These are the questions Chad Alan Goldberg asks in Education for Democracy, questions he and his 11 contributors answer by examining how and why the Wisconsin Idea was born, expanded, honored – and then threatened and diminished. And they explain why it must be renewed, and suggest how to do so.
The list of those contributors is quite a collection of scholars and analysts, including Prof. Katherine Cramer, author of The Politics of Resentment, environmental historian and biographer of Aldo Leopold Curt Meine, our friend, repeat guest and LGBTQ historian Dick Wagner, Wisconsin Public Radio’s Emily Auerbach, and several other distinguished professors, both from the UW and elsewhere.
Prof. Goldberg is very well-equipped to edit this volume, which is based on an outreach course on the Wisconsin Idea which he helped organize in 2016, and which he still teaches as Professor of Sociology. And It was Prof Goldberg who in May 2016 wrote the resolution — which the Faculty Senate adopted — expressing no confidence in the commitment by then-president Ray Cross and the Board of Regents to defend the Wisconsin Idea, which was under attack by Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican legislature.
Prof. Goldberg’s previous books include Modernity and the Jews in Western Social Thought and Citizens and Paupers: Relief, Rights, and Race, from the Freedmen’s Bureau to Workfare. He is also affiliated with the Center for German and European Studies, the George l. Mosse/Laurence A. Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies and the GAM program in History, all here at the UW Madison.
And on a personal note, Chad and Stu are both graduates of a small school now known as New College, the Honors College of Florida, where their respective graduating classes were smaller than the class roster of his Survey of Sociology course.
Thankfully, Ray Cross and Scott Walker are both gone, and Professor Chad Alan Goldberg is still here. It was a pleasure to welcome him to Madison Bookbeat.