SAGE takes the "Wisconsin Idea" seriously - the principle that education should contribute to human well-being beyond the walls of the university. Toward this end, all SAGE researchers participate in a wide range of activities to connect research and university teaching with public decision-making and community education.

Jonathon Patz giving a lecture

Sharing Expertise

In many cases, the applied, policy-relevant aspects of SAGE expertise naturally support real-world problem solving. As an international expert in environmental health, Prof. Jonathan Patz is sought out by a wide range initiatives on the public health impacts of climate change, land use, and energy. He has served as a lead author of multiple reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an initiatives so valuable that it was recognized in 2007 with a Nobel Peace Prize (in which Prof. Patz shares). Patz devotes significant efforts to public science communication, contributing to a 2008 Time Magazine article, an HBO Documentary "Too Hot Not to Handle," and numerous state and local news reporting on emerging issues on environmental health.
Jonathon Patz giving a lecture


A number of SAGE research projects are designed to support outreach, including the innovative CO2gether project, an online tool to help people in South Central Wisconsin calculate, reduce and track their carbon footprints. CO2gether was developed as part of the M.S. work of Anne Shudy-Palmer (advised by Prof. Jon Foley) in collaboration with Madison Gas & Electric (MG&E) and 1000 Friends of Wisconsin. Another great example of this research-based outreach is the October 2008, work of SAGE researcher Chris Kucharik and former student Nic Jelinski, who worked with staff at Riverland Conservancy's Merrimac Preserve, near Devil's Lake State Park, in cooperation with Alliant Energy, to create a self-guided tour of the landscape of the region and to educate users on the connections between ecosystems and the carbon cycle.
collage of weather, people and technology images

Weston Roundtable Series

Beyond these research-driven outreach activities, SAGE designed and manages the the Weston Roundtable Series, a high-profile series of talks geared toward public engagement with sustainability issues. Funded by a generous donation from UW-Madison alumnus Roy F. Weston, and in cooperation with the broader Nelson Institute and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, a handful of international leaders on environmental science, engineering, business, and policy are invited to campus each year, with each visit promoted as a major event. To facilitate public attendance and engagement, lectures are held in the late afternoon, followed by a reception to promote informal networking and discussion.
collage of weather, people and technology images

Wisconsin Energy and Sustainability Challenge

is a student innovation competition open to UW-Madison students in which interdisciplinary teams create products or programs to address the causes or impacts of climate change. The Challenge offers two prizes: The Global Stewards Sustainability Prize and The Dvorak Energy Innovation Prize. The Wisconsin Energy and Sustainability Challenge is hosted by SAGE and the Wisconsin Energy Institute.