Campus Alignment


Essential Learning Outcomes for Liberal Education

UW-Madison participates in the Association of American Colleges and Universities’ (AAC&U) national project, Liberal Education and America’s Promise. This initiative seeks to identify the goals and essential learning outcomes for all college students in the 21st century in order to be successful in a rapidly changing global economy. Studies conducted by the AAC&U found that employers and recent college graduates recognize the importance of interdisciplinary and flexible learning as key to success in the new global economy. Therefore, all students need to have the experiences and develop the skills inherent in liberal education if they are to succeed in a rapidly changing economy. The Essential Learning Outcomes identified by AAC&U are:

  • Knowledge of Human Cultures and the Physical and Natural World
    Through study in the sciences and mathematics, social sciences, humanities, histories, languages, and the arts
  • Intellectual and Practical Skills, including
    Inquiry and analysis, critical and creative thinking, written and oral communication, quantitative literacy, information literacy, and teamwork and problem solving skills
  • Personal and Social Responsibility, including
    Civic knowledge and engagement, intercultural knowledge and competence, ethical reasoning and action, foundations and skills for lifelong learning
  • Integrative Learning
    Synthesis and advanced accomplishment across general and specialized studies

Wisconsin Experience

The Wisconsin Experience (PDF)

Grounded in the 100-year old Wisconsin Idea and our progressive history, our historical mission has evolved to create an expectation for all of us – faculty, staff, and students – to apply in and out of classroom learning in ways that can have significant and positive impacts on the world. What we do matters, and together we can solve any problem. It is this unique Wisconsin Experience that produces graduates who think beyond the conventional wisdom, who are creative problem-solvers, who know how to integrate passion with empirical analysis, who know how to seek out, evaluate, and create new knowledge and technologies, who can adapt to new situations, and who are engaged citizens of the world.

Wisconsin Idea

The Wisconsin Idea is one of the longest and deepest traditions surrounding the University of Wisconsin – Madison. The WI Idea signifies a general principle: that education should influence people’s lives beyond the boundaries of the classroom.

UW-Madison Strategic Framework

From Campus Strategic Framework:

"The University of Wisconsin–Madison will be a model public university in the 21st century, serving as a resource to the public and working to enhance the quality of life in the state, the nation, and the world. The university will remain a preeminent center for discovery, learning, and engagement by opening new forms of access to citizens from every background; creating a welcoming, empowered, and inclusive community; and preparing current and future generations to live satisfying, useful, and ethical lives. In partnership with the state and with colleagues around the world, the university’s faculty, staff, and students will identify and address many of the state’s and the world’s most urgent and complex problems."

IT Strategic Plan

From UW-Madison Strategic IT Plan:

"UW-Madison has always embraced the ideal that faculty, staff and students actively participate in institutional governance and policy development. We accomplish this through organizations unique to faculty, staff and student groups and increasingly through organizations that combine representation from each group. Our culture, which has evolved over more than 150 years, continues to embrace shared governance, distributed decision-making and local support. Respect for and understanding of the value of local autonomy and academic freedom remains an essential component as we frame our strategies."