Series

Agriculture is a cornerstone of the Wisconsin economy, and farmers across the state rely on international markets for customers. The commodities exported around the world include some of Wisconsin's most common agricultural products, including cheese and soybeans, as well as a host of specialized products that have come to symbolize the state's bounty, such as ginseng and cranberries. In the early 21st century, Wisconsin's largest agricultural export destination by far has been Canada, followed by Mexico, China and other nations. Farmers who rely on exports face uncertainties driven by fluctuating international demand, variable commodities markets and shifts in global politics, including an escalating series of tariffs levied between the United States and some of its closest trading partners. These changing conditions have impacts that ripple across the state’s broader agricultural economy.More
Explore this WisContext series
The health system in the U.S. is built upon a complex and interlocking series of relationships between medical providers, insurers, the federal and state governments, employers and the people who require preventive care and treatment throughout their lives. The enactment of the Affordable Care Act, one goal of which was securing coverage for more Americans, has profoundly transformed this system since its implementation, including in Wisconsin. At the same time, the political contentiousness of the law has added complexity and uncertainty to the health care decisions Americans make, and the future of the health care system continues to be an open question.More
Explore this WisContext series
Many Wisconsinites have experienced traumas in childhood, but their effects are not universal, nor are their burdens evenly distributed among the state's different communities. Depending on the individual, trauma can have a lifelong impact, affecting behavior, relationships and physical, emotional and mental health. The burden of childhood trauma and the toll it takes on individual lives and public health is attracting more attention by health professionals, educators and caregivers. As a result, public and private organizations around the state are incorporating trauma-informed approaches into their daily work with children and adults. These approaches are part of efforts to transform Wisconsin's human services and justice systems in the hope of providing better outcomes for traumatized individuals and communities.More
Explore this WisContext series
Opioid overdoses kill hundreds of Wisconsinites every year, amid a nationwide surge in painkiller and heroin abuse that's been building since the turn of the century. Opioids are a category of pain relief drugs that include long-known substances like morphine and heroin, but also powerful synthetic pharmaceuticals like hydrocodone and fentanyl. Years of widespread opioid prescriptions helped initiate the crisis, and the increasing cheap cost of these drugs fueled the spread of abuse in rural, suburban and urban communities alike. All levels of government are mobilizing to address opioid abuse, and like many states, Wisconsin is adopting policies that focus on public health approaches over emphasizing criminalization. As the contours of this epidemic continues to shift, so do efforts to contain and reverse it among health care providers, law enforcement and community organizations.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