October 2, 2012 | 2
Dear Readers, it’s been quite awhile since I last wrote.
In the intervening time, North Carolina Central University deemed me a Master of Biology, I traveled to see friends and family, and I moved to Madison, Wisconsin to start school in the Neuroscience and Public Policy program (NPP) at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Being a student in the NPP means that I am enrolled in both the La Follette School of Public Affairs and the Neuroscience Training Program, culminating in two degrees: a Masters of International Public Affairs and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience.
Apart from (but somewhat related to) the unique combination of my graduate program, one factor that impressed me about the University of Wisconsin was the fact that the university seemed to be on the cutting edge of using social media, utilizing several active twitter feeds and otherwise having a very firm commitment to public outreach in science. I started my programs in both Neuroscience and Public Policy about a month ago, and the one theme that resonated through both was something called the Wisconsin Idea. The phrase that sums up this idea is “the boundaries of the university are the boundaries of the state.” As I’ve witnessed so far, this quote means that the university has a far reaching history of educating local citizens through public outreach. The Wisconsin Idea points back to the namesake of the public policy school, Robert M. La Follette. As governor and senator of Wisconsin in the early 20th century, La Follette teamed up with the University of Wisconsin’s president Charles Van Hise in an attempt to make sure that the university’s activities also informed and benefited the people living in the state of Wisconsin. In these early days of the Wisconsin Idea, faculty from UW Madison would consult with politicians to draft some of the early forms of progressive legislation, upholding the belief that intellectuals had an obligation to inform and participate in public life. In 2012, the Wisconsin Idea is still going strong into its 100th year, with a dedicated university website detailing all of its current outreach programs and events.
I’m impressed with the philosophy of the Wisconsin Idea and am delighted to discover all the ways that this history informs the present reality, from my current graduate program to the firm commitment to public outreach and involvement of the entire University of Wisconsin system. What does all of this mean for the future of Science with Moxie? Well, one thing is that since I am starting this graduate program as an attempt to grow into a neuroscientist with a hand in public affairs and policy, it means that matters of science and policy might flavor some of the posts I make here (but it might just mean that I rant more on twitter). However, I plan to keep the focus of this blog on matters of science and music, but also on the ways that all these topics intersect, locally or otherwise. It also means that since my home base is now Madison, I’m in a good position to cover events, scientists, and musicians in the Midwest. I have a few old interviews in the works, but if anyone local in both science and music wants to be interviewed for the blog, please feel free to contact me. I’m excited about this new step and I hope that this move also serves to make this blog more interesting. Thank you for coming along for the ride!