A Copernican Moment: Engaged Scholarship in Research and Teaching

New Graduate Course Fall 2013

Research that frames theory and methods to address public issues, transcends disciplinary siloes, and engages fellow citizens.

Teaching that connects classroom learning with public issues and develops undergraduate students’ democratic skills and dispositions.

Graduate students who think of themselves as engaged scholars and how they engage in the public.

A class with theory/principles, experiential component, and direct application.

A class with layered approaches that move students towards a direct application in their field of study.


  • Copernican Moment: a new paradigm of university and public scholarship and engagement
  • Higher education: the big picture and historical context of outreach
  • The University and the Community: scholarship in the public and academic spheres.
  • Translational Issues: writing and visualizing for the public
  • Engaging Controversial issues: conflict and controversy in and out of the classroom
  • Engaged Scholarship and the Humanities
  • Interdisciplinary Dynamics
  • Professional Challenges and Opportunities

Learn more by contacting Helyn Luisi-Mills, Interdisciplinary Studies Department in the School of Human Ecology.  Also see CUE Newsletter Vol I Issue 1 for additional info about this course.

GreenFreiburg in Madison

Course Title: Env Studies 699: Directed Study: GreenSummer Freiburg in Madison
Semester: Summer 2012
Instructor/CUE Affiliate: Nancy Mathews, Alfonso Morales, Global Health Institute
Community Partner: GreenLink Projects LLC
Related Activity: GreenSummer Freiburg

Abstract: The course is designed as a community-based learning course. We will learn together about environmental sustainability, its direct and vital relationship to global health issues, and how our efforts in Madison might be enhanced going forward. To put this into context, we will be using Freiburg’s globally-recognized successes as a benchmark. In addition to learning about a variety of sustainability-related programs, projects and initiatives in Freiburg, we will work to identify existing sustainability-related initiatives and programs in Madison, and then envision what enhanced or new concepts might look like based on the Freiburg models.

Student Learning Goals: By setting some of Freiburg’s green efforts in the context of the Madison region, students will be able to reflect on the importance of various ‘green’ concepts and their importance to the global health system. Students will be challenged to discuss positives of health-related aspects of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies (eg: manure-based biogas digesters keep phosphorus out of our regional lake system, which increases water quality for recreation and fishing).

Deliverable Product or Service:

  • MadEco Guide. A campus sustainability guide and will be distributed to students through the Office of Sustainability, Campus’ Residence GreenHouse community, and other locations such as Union South.


GreenSummer Freiburg

Overview: This project is designed around two catalysts: the Freiburg-Madison Sister City program, an ‘official’ relationship between the two cities which was initiated over twenty years ago, and also the many exchange programs that have existed between UW-Madison and Uni-Freiburg for over 45 years. The City of Freiburg is currently known as one of the most sustainable cities in the world and has been very supportive of helping its Sister Cities grow their green infrastructure capacity. The City of Madison and the UW-Madison have a unique and excellent partner to help support ‘green’ efforts in the greater Madison region.

UW-Madison students spent six weeks in Freiburg learning about transit, renewable energy, passive house design, sustainable neighborhoods, solid waste digesters, green tourism and environmental economics. While there were there, students lived for the summer in the sustainable neighborhood of Vauban to experience firsthand many applications of sustainable living.

Students learning about solar/green roof of 100% renewable-powered hotel in Freiburg (CUE, 2011).

Objectives: Students are charged by Freiburg leaders to bring back knowledge of their advanced technologies to inform decisions about sustainability initiatives in Madison, for two reasons: to establish business partnerships for their Green Business Cluster with Madison-based stakeholders; and as a globally recognized leader in sustainability, a commitment to help their sister-cities move from incremental to transformational change.

Students Learning Goals:

  • Experience firsthand the many aspects of the sustainable living in Freiburg

Deliverable Products or Services:

  • volunteered with the city parks in a program bringing citizens together to plant trees, clean stream beds, and maintain park equipment.
  • shadowed passiv-haus architect and delivered research on building materials to Madison-based urban planner.
  • provided assistance as interns in a solar research team at the Fraunhofer ISE.

CUE Affiliates: Nancy Mathews, Beth Tryon
Community Partners: Wisconsin Without Borders, Greenlink Projects, LLC
Related Activity: GreenFreiburg in Madison


  • Beth Tryon. May 2012. Green Summer in Freiburg. Living Knowledge, International Journal  of Community-Based Research, No. 10, page 24.

News/articles related to GreenFreiburg: