Series

Manufacturing and agriculture have historically reigned supreme in Wisconsin's economy. But automation and consolidation in those sectors, and a shifting emphasis toward service- and technology-based industries, means the nature of work is changing rapidly. As workers across the state seek to start their careers, pursue better jobs, or find themselves struggling to reap the benefits of economic growth, they're looking for new opportunities wherever they might find them, including outside Wisconsin. As demographic and workforce shifts shape the state's future, political and business leaders are looking to attract and retain workers with advanced skills and education. These efforts are related to larger forces affecting Wisconsin's future, including population decline in rural areas, the role of higher education, and how public resources are used to develop the economy.More
The Milwaukee suburb of Waukesha received approval in 2016 to draw drinking water from Lake Michigan after a years-long bid to replace its radium-tainted groundwater supply. Waukesha became the first community not located within the Great Lakes Basin to gain access to this water source. The decision marked an historic test of the binational Great Lakes Compact between the U.S. and Canada governing use of the five lakes. As Waukesha prepares to start accessing the water by the early 2020s, controversies continue over how it will affect state and regional waterways and the precedent it sets in Great Lakes water policy.More
Local food generates both widespread interest and economic activity around Wisconsin. Many residents purchase food at farmers' markets, receive community-supported agriculture shares and/or grow their own produce in personal and community gardens. Restaurants and grocery stores are increasingly sourcing homegrown foods as well, and marketing them to consumers seeking local flavors. Scientists and educators are likewise turning their attention to the concept of local food, exploring its benefits and challenges — and Wisconsinites' complex attitudes about it.More
Fleeing conflict and persecution around the world, refugees are a small but significant part of Wisconsin's population. While it's not the biggest destination for resettlement in the United States, the state is home to thousands of people who arrived as refugees from several dozen countries. A Hmong community took root across Wisconsin in the 1970s, and a small Somali community settled in rural Barron County in the 1990s, but large numbers of refugees from countries including Burma, Iraq and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have arrived in the 21st century. People seeking refugee status in the U.S. — which is distinct from other kinds of immigration — have gone through an extensive vetting process, but a rise of xenophobia and new federal policies threaten to make their position more uncertain.More
Ticks are a familiar nuisance around Wisconsin, but they also pose a growing health risk to the humans they feed on, exposing them to disease-causing pathogens. Deer ticks have spread across much of the state in recent decades, feeding on wildlife along with people and their pets. These ticks transmit Lyme disease, and the state is facing a persistently high rate of infection. Ticks spread other illnesses as well. Entomologists and public health researchers are investigating the relationship between ticks, their hosts and the surrounding environment, but continue to emphasize prevention as the best way to reduce infections.More