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Liberal Education Initiative

LEAP Wisconsin is an initiative of the University of Wisconsin System that seeks to increase understanding of the value and purpose of liberal education for UW students and Wisconsin citizens.

In 2005, the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) named the University of Wisconsin System its pilot partner in moving the Liberal Education and America’s Promise, or LEAP, agenda forward. Wisconsin thus became the first pilot state for AAC&U’s advocacy and campus-action activities.

The initiative in Wisconsin connects leaders at the 15 UW System institutions, as well as other state colleges and universities, with the broader public to make the case for the importance of a quality liberal education for all citizens.

Prior to its involvement in the LEAP campaign, the UW System launched in 2004 The Currency of the Liberal Arts and Sciences: Rethinking Liberal Education in Wisconsin. Over time, LEAP Wisconsin has maintained the earlier goals of the Currency initiative, while sharpening its focus on: 

  • Demonstrating that the UW System provides each of its students—regardless of economic background—with the outcomes that characterize a high-quality education; and
  • Developing a statewide campaign to promote higher education as the key to a vibrant, knowledge-based economy. 

Announcing the Tenth Annual Liberal Arts Essay Scholarship Competition for 2014-15

LEAP Wisconsin seeks to achieve its goals through the following strategies:

  • Leadership through Campus Action: Engaging faculty, staff and students at UW institutions in making the teaching and learning of liberal education goals intentional within and beyond the classroom; and
  • Leadership through Public Advocacy and Outreach: Engaging decision-makers in Wisconsin from all educational sectors, business and industry, the media, local and state government, and the non-profit sector in spreading the word about the importance of liberal education to the public and UW System communities, through campus-community dialogues, outreach programs to Wisconsin citizens, promotion, and fundraising.

As the partnership with AAC&U has developed, leaders of the initiative have worked to make Wisconsin a national model for other states and higher education systems to follow.

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Last Update: September 12, 2014