University of Wisconsin–Madison

Research & Scholarship

The Wisconsin Approach

Wisconsin faculty members share a commitment to excellence in research, embracing a wide variety of substantive concerns and methodological approaches. The faculty has long been known for its interest in interdisciplinary work and for its commitment to a law-in-action approach to scholarship.

For Wisconsin scholars, no matter how interesting or elegant the underlying theory, Wisconsin's law-in-action approach challenges them to answer the question: "Why should this matter to people in the real world?" In contrast to legal scholars whose work is theory-based, Wisconsin scholars tend to begin with an observed, real-world problem or phenomenon and then seek to explain it and to put it into a larger theoretical context.

Much of the research undertaken at Wisconsin is devoted to explaining how law and legal institutions work and often to understanding why law and legal institutions might not be working as intended. The Wisconsin faculty contextualizes law, studying it as one of many social processes that may shape behavior. Many faculty members are active in the Law & Society Association, an international organization of scholars who study the interrelation of society and the legal process; indeed, the current Wisconsin faculty includes three LSA past presidents.

The work of the Wisconsin faculty is not geographically bounded. Though a majority study U.S. law, a growing number explore law in less familiar settings and are focusing their research on the workings of law in countries throughout the world.

Faculty Activities and Scholarship

  • Alta Charo spoke at a Nuclear Threat Initiative meeting that convened in London in April, as part of her work as a member of the "Biosecurity Innovation and Risk Reduction Initiative." Charo's presentation focused on the role funders and journals can play in reducing the risk that biotechnology research can result in biohazards or be turned into a bioterrorism tool.

  • Mitch has been reappointed for a three-year term as UW Law School's representative on the Wisconsin Access to Justice Commission. The commission was created by the Wisconsin Supreme Court at the request of the State Bar of Wisconsin to aid the courts in improving the administration of justice.

  • Malinda Constant received the 2019 Administrative Improvement Award for her work in improving and streamlining employment outcomes data collection process for the Office of Career & Professional Development. UW-Madison's Vice Chancellor Laurent Heller and Provost Sarah Mangelsdorf will present the  award to Constant at the Office of Strategic Consulting’s Showcase in April.

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