2023–2024 Faculty Research Grants
Citizen Representation in Wisconsin Energy Policy: An Analysis of State and Local Advocacy on the Line 5 Project
Amber N. Lusvardi, PhD
The political battle over the Keystone XL Pipeline that ended with a canceled permit by the Biden administration showed the potential power of contentious politics in pipeline negotiations. While the Keystone project stalled, others moved forward, including a project to reroute an Enbridge oil pipeline around tribal lands in Northern Wisconsin. This action engaged Wisconsin residents in a debate on the sustainability of fossil fuel projects and the long-term plan for Wisconsin’s future. In this project, I analyze citizen advocacy in local and state government contexts during the approval process for Enbridge for the Line 5 pipeline expansion. I use text analysis of public meeting transcripts, correspondence with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and other public documents to analyze the nature of contention around the pipeline. This project seeks to expand our knowledge of the relationship between the public and state and local actors on a controversial energy policy and the nature of the public’s reticence over new oil projects.
Post-Pandemic Student Challenges at Wisconsin Campuses: Exploring the role that third places take in student engagement and motivation to learn, sense of community, and emotional well-being
Julie E. Peterson, PhD
UW – Stout
Since the pandemic, students have been faced with challenges such as effectively transitioning back into the physical classroom, being engaged and motivated to learn, experiencing a sense of classroom community (SCC) and belonging, and having an increased prevalence of emotional well-being issues. Many Wisconsin universities have also experienced even tighter budgets since the pandemic with limited funding to support infrastructure upgrades. The primary research question of this exploratory study is to determine if student access and use of alternative environments on campuses, such as third places, affect engagement & motivation to learn, overall sense of classroom community, and post-pandemic emotional well-being. Findings from this study will inform the UW-System and administration on which infrastructure typologies and other environments best support the post-pandemic college student. Information gained will also be used to assist in projecting the needs of future students with the goal of sustaining, and ideally growing, university enrollments.
What local & state taxes have citizens of Oshkosh paid since the 1830s?
Gabriel Loiacono, PhD
When the United States was founded, local taxes were by far the biggest that Americans paid. At the same time, they were the least controversial. This remained true as new United States towns were established, including in Wisconsin Territory. This study will trace the history of local taxation in Oshkosh from the 1830s on. It will focus on:
1) how much residents paid,
2) how local taxes compared to territorial and state taxes, and
3) what local taxes paid for. In 2023, local and state revenue sharing was at the center of Wisconsin lawmakers’ attention.
This study, a long history of local taxation in one Wisconsin city, can provide perspective on how Wisconsinites have raised and spent revenue over time.
The Nonprofit Sector in Rural Wisconsin: Moving Towards Collective Impact
Micheal R. Ford
UW – Oshkosh
The purpose of this project is to use data and cases from Wisconsin to create best practices on how local government can build and execute nonprofit collective impact initiatives that address pressing economic and social needs in rural Wisconsin. The project includes three deliverables:
1) A county-level, interactive data tool for the nonprofit sector in Wisconsin, providing accessible, up-to-date county level nonprofit and community needs data;
2) A research-based “best practices” guide that outlines how rural local government leaders can maximize the collective impact of their local nonprofit sector. The guide will include case studies and strategies for overcoming likely barriers; and
3) Our team will travel to multiple municipalities throughout Wisconsin to present the best practices guide and interactive data tool, further advancing nonprofit leader capacities in rural Wisconsin.
How to Respond to Uncertainty and Pushback During Health Crises: A Guide for Wisconsin Political Leaders and Public Health Care Officials
Phil Clampitt, Ph.D.
UW – Green Bay
The purpose of this exploratory research is to look back at the COVID response and identify lessons learned about properly managing pushback during times of health care uncertainty. By conducting targeted interviews with prominent media health care commentators, Wisconsin political leaders, and academic health care experts, we seek to:
1) identify major quandaries faced by public officials and health care workers in Wisconsin when communicating to the public,
2) evaluate Wisconsin policies and heuristics for managing the uncertainties associated with any unknown health threats,
3) pinpoint lessons learned from those tasked with communicating about the uncertainties associated with health information and related pushback[i], and
4) ascertain the questions that remain to be answered to craft better policy guidelines for communicating to Wisconsin citizens about future, uncertain health threats.
[i] N. Ron, R. Lipshitz, and M. Popper, “How Organizations Learn: Post-Flight Reviews in an F-16 Fighter Squadron.” Organization Studies 27 (8) 2006: 1069-1089
Communicating Quality & Building Confidence in Wisconsin Drinking Water
UW – Madison
This project analyzes drinking water choices and attitudes about water utilities in small communities. Wisconsin’s hundreds of small drinking water systems present an important challenge: 84 percent of the state’s water utilities serve fewer than 10,000 residents. These communities often lack the capacity to maintain high-quality service. This study will deploy public opinion surveys in two similar, small Wisconsin communities: one high-performing system and one average performing system. Working with UW’s Survey Center, we will gather data on attitudes and behaviors toward drinking water from residents of both communities. A communications experiment will be embedded in the survey: some residents will receive the federally mandated Safe Drinking Water Act Consumer Confidence Report, while others will receive a comprehensive UW report card on their utility’s performance. The results of this research will yield important evidence about rural Wisconsinites’ trust in drinking water and the effects of communication strategies on public confidence.
Past Research Awards