Wisconsin Idea Final Project

100 points total

25% of your final grade


So far in class, we’ve covered a lot about your transition to UW-Madison, what some of your goals are as a student here, what resources are available to you, etc. We know that figuring out a new place is a big part of your early Wisconsin Experience.

But another big part of the Wisconsin Experience is figuring out how you can reach outside of yourself and further the Wisconsin Idea, the principle that the university should improve people’s lives beyond the classroom.

This assignment offers you a lot of flexibility as far as what topic you choose, what community you wish to serve, and why your topic is important to you. It should be something that is important to you and that you can feel passionate about. You should also know that campus offers funding opportunities to students who wish to live out similar projects, so a thoughtful class proposal could eventually turn into a real-world project!


By the end of the course, you will be able to:

To complete this assignment, you need to:

  1. Pitch your final project
    IN-CLASS: Thursday, October 29
  2. Share a draft of your final paper with Heather & Angela based on your pitch (via Dropbox)
    DUE: Thursday, November 5
  3. Design Poster based on paper
  4. Submit your final paper--Submit via Dropbox
    DUE: Tuesday, December 8
  5. Design and present a poster at the CP 125 Wisconsin Experience Symposium--Submit detailed photos via Dropbox.
    →  I would recommend turning in 4 pictures for your final presentation: one of the overall poster, and one of each panel closer up. Photos should be good enough quality to read. If you do not have a way to take relatively high-quality photos, please ask me to take a picture at the symposium. I will send it to you, and you will still be responsible to upload the photo to the proper Dropbox folder.
    SYMPOSIUM: Tuesday, December 8, 2015 (1:00 PM - 7:00 PM). Poster must be submitted by the end of the day. Our class’ timeslot for the Symposium is from 5:30 pm - 6:45 pm.

The Final Project – What is it?

Your final project is a representation of something that matters to you in the context of your community—something you would like to do to make your community a better place. The structure of the project is designed to mimic the type of presentation you would need to do if you were presenting your project to a grant committee.

  1. Choose a community that has a need you care about.
    The community could be your residence hall, your hometown, the Madison community, the global community, or any other community that is meaningful to you. Make sure that the scope of your project makes sense for you—maybe you want to help with improving access to food worldwide, but how might you do that on a smaller, more defined scale?
  2. Create an action plan for your project.
    What is your idea or intervention? How does it contribute to the Wisconsin Idea — the notion that we have a responsibility to improve the lives of the citizens of Wisconsin and the world? How is this idea unique, and something that’s not already being done?

Things to consider

Use this opportunity to integrate what you have learned from your education so far at UW-Madison (and elsewhere). To make this project relevant and interesting to you, consider the following:


  1. Cover Page (1 page)
    Include your name, project title, project duration, and amount of funding requested (the sky’s the limit!).
    → The Writing Center’s website has a great example of a cover page

  2. Introduction (½ page)
    Provide a statement of the proposed project objectives and the project’s anticipated significance and impact on the chosen community. In a few sentences, you should be able to identify the following:
  1. A Community
    The community could be your residence hall, your hometown, the Madison community, the global community, or any other community that is meaningful to you.
  2. A Problem or Issue
    What is a need this community has that you care about? You may wish to revisit your one-page reflection papers or the library workshop to identify research topics that are of interest to you personally, academically, or professionally. Alternatively, you can explore a completely different issue.

  1. Background and Rationale (½  - 1 page)
    Articulate the benefits of the proposed project and provide information about existing research related to your project. Also describe why this project is significant to you.
  1. Site two scholarly articles that directly address your question.
  2. One of these two sources can come from the library assignment citation if the article is relevant to your topic; however, you are not required to use the citation you used for the library assignment. You should use these sources to help provide background information on your topic and support your action plan. Utilize the handouts and information provided in our library visit to identify reliable sources. Make sure to cite with APA format.
    → The Writing Center’s website has examples of properly cited scholarly sources. 

  1. Describe and reflect on how this topic is important to you personally, academically, or professionally.
    Also be sure to discuss how your topic connects to the Wisconsin Idea.

  1. Methods (1 page)
    Discuss the details of your project. How will you execute this project? How long will it take? How does this method (your action plan) lead to the desired goals? Use your creativity and think of a project that could truly be impactful. Think of ways you can innovate, create, build, and empower others. Be sure to explain new or existing resources, skills, knowledge, professional development opportunities, etc., that you will need to apply to accomplish your goals. You may wish to consult your one-page reflection papers on liberal education, the research institution, and diversity for ideas.
    → This should be the longest part of your proposal and the part you invest the most time in.

  2. Sponsorship (2-4 sentences)
    For the purpose of this grant proposal, we will assume that collaboration with others is critical to your project proposal. An important part of CP 125 has been to identify in- and out-of-class opportunities to help you learn. Now it’s time to connect this!
  1. Identify one faculty member who will be your Principal Investigator (PI).
    A PI is responsible for a sponsored research project (grant), specifically technical aspects of the work as well as adherence to grant requirements. The PI you choose does not need to be the same person you met with for the Faculty Conference assignment. Be sure however, that the faculty member is someone who works at UW-Madison and has expertise on the topic, population, or research background described in this project. You do
    not need to contact this person; simply name the person and explain how they would serve as an expert for your project.
    → Check out UW-Madison’s Experts Guide
  2. Identify a campus resource that can help you learn more about or support your project in a meaningful way.
    You can, but are not required to, draw from a resource or organization you learned about through the UW Passport assignment. You do
    not need to contact or get involved with the resource; you only need to name the resource and explain how the resource would contribute to your project.

  1. Conclusion and Connection to Course Concepts (½ - 1 page)
  1. Show how your work will achieve the goals and/or outcomes presented in your hypothesis.
    Provide evidence to support your conclusions. Evidence should be given in a descending order of importance, beginning with the most important evidence.
  2. Reflect on how your project connects to our Wisconsin Experience course concepts.
    These include the Wisconsin Idea, research at a research university, liberal education, and diversity and inclusivity. Depending on your project, you may have more or less to discuss for each class topic.

  1. References (1 page)
    Be sure to cite appropriately and consistently in APA or MLA.
    → Visit the Writing Center’s online handbook for examples. The reference page is sometimes referred to as a “works cited” or “bibliography.”  

Final Paper Requirements


Posters should include the following elements:

Poster Requirements



Additional Resources

Are you passionate about your project? You might be able to find funding on campus! If you are interested in real grant opportunities on campus, check out these resources:

These are also good places to look to get a better understanding of what is required from an actual grant application.