Series

Most Wisconsinites live in urban and suburban communities, but the state’s landscape is dominated by rural areas where farmland and forest predominate. But what makes a given place rural? What about small towns or exurbs or "up north" tourist destinations? And when is a place even considered small in the first place? Defining the continuum between rural and urban areas is complex and can be a contentious matter. It is also continuously in flux as people grow older, have children and move between places in pursuit of different opportunities. The demographics of rural Wisconsin are changing rapidly, with populations aging and overall numbers decreasing in many areas. These shifts have profound implications for the state as a whole, and will shape its economy, politics and culture.More
Explore this WisContext series
Energy is an essential necessity of human life that powers individual everyday needs and the economy as a whole. Its sources span millenia, from draft animals and wood to coal and oil to nuclear fission. Advancing technology continues to transform energy production, and renewable sources like solar, wind and biofuels are increasingly used. A growing number of homeowners, businesses and communities across Wisconsin are considering renewables as part of their own energy portfolios. The backdrop of a changing climate is one motivation for these shifts, as are changing consumer demand, investment opportunities and public policy incentives. As the state's energy landscape adapts to meet new opportunities, researchers are investigating the potential of renewables and evaluating challenges to pursuing sustainable and secure sources.More
Explore this WisContext series
Climate science is complex. Because changes to the global climate span continents and develop over decades, their effects on individual places and weather events are difficult to pinpoint. But with an ever growing body of historical climate data and sophisticated computer modeling, scientists can forecast how climate change is unfolding — and likely continue to play out — in places like Wisconsin with increasing confidence. In coming decades communities around the state are projected to continue experiencing warmer and more extreme weather. These effects are increasingly being recognized, with winter and nighttime temperatures rising, and heavier rainstorms occurring with increasing regularity. From the environment to human health to the economy, gauging the impacts of a changing climate is an urgent scientific endeavor with implications for every Wisconsinite.More
Explore this WisContext series
Wisconsin statue
A century has passed since women won the right to vote in the United States, but their struggle for representation in government continues in the 21st century. Wisconsin was the first state to ratify the 19th Amendment, but it is not a leader when it comes to electing women to office. The state lags behind its neighbors in terms of the number of women elected to state offices. Women also run for office less frequently, facing barriers related to opportunity, incumbency and other factors. To support more women running for office, organizations along the political spectrum are working at local, state and national levels. While Wisconsin might not be a front-runner in this matter of representation, the potential and possibilities for women in office are moving forward.More
Explore this WisContext series
Many distinct and ongoing waves of immigration have indelibly shaped communities across Wisconsin. The 19th-century influxes of immigrants from Germany, Scandinavia and elsewhere in Europe are strongly associated with the state's cultural identity, but the immigrant experience in Wisconsin is far more varied. Canada has been a small but steady source of immigrants throughout the state's history. Several increasingly large phases of immigration from Mexico and other nations around Latin America have left imprints around the state, ranging from Milwaukee to dairy and vegetable farms in rural areas. In recent decades, immigrants from Asia have likewise increasingly made their home in the state, with Hmong communities standing out. As new groups of immigrants arrive in Wisconsin, their civic, religions and economic contributions adds to the state's diversity.More
Explore this WisContext series