The Education Building, built in 1900 and renovated in 2011, houses UW’s School of Education, routinely ranked as one of the top programs of its type in the country. The School of Education was founded in 1930 and was seen by the university as a direct outgrowth of the Wisconsin Idea, a term first coined in the early twentieth century by UW President Charles Van Hise. The Wisconsin Idea stated that the studies and research at UW should benefit the entire state of Wisconsin. In Van Hise’s famous words, “the boundaries of the university are the boundaries of the state.” Later generations of UW faculty and administrators extended this vision to the nation and the globe.
At its origins, the Wisconsin Idea was deeply informed by the dominant religious sentiments of the era, especially the Social Gospel movement mentioned earlier in relation to Richard Ely and John R. Commons. The Social Gospel tended to work for progressive political causes, and Wisconsin, called the “laboratory of democracy.” by Theodore Roosevelt, was a national leader in progressive reform.
The Protestant origins of the Wisconsin Idea have largely been forgotten. Yet the Wisconsin Idea itself still shapes the focus and makeup of many of UW’s colleges and departments. Especially in fields like education, the Wisconsin Idea has continued to push UW to ground its research in the problems faced by Wisconsin communities and to prioritize student enrollment and placement in the state.
Walk to the base of Bascom Hill and go left, walking north on Park Street until you are at the intersection with Langdon Street. On your left you should see the entrance to (the large red brick building known as) Science Hall. This is the next stop.