Dave Zweifel's Madison: Wisconsin Academy Program Will Try to Make Sense of U.S. Debt

Published Oct 15, 2011. By Dave Zweifel. In The Capital Times.

The Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters exists to engage Wisconsin citizens in a variety of topics of public interest.

If the seemingly endless battle over the national debt and the country's deficits baffle you, for instance, another in a series of "Academy Evenings" will try to make sense of it all this coming Tuesday night from 7 to 8:30 at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art's lecture hall in the Overture building.

Diane Lim Rogers, chief economist at the Concord Coalition whose blog at EconomistMom.com has become a must read for folks trying to make sense of the economy, will give a talk entitled "The Post 9/11 Economy: Getting ‘Civilized' About Deficit Reduction."

Rogers promises to give a fair-minded assessment of the current debate raging between Congressional Republicans and President Obama and to make sense of policy options that might bring everyone closer together.

Although it often flies beneath the radar, the Academy has been around for 141 years with a mission to connect people and ideas to build a better Wisconsin in the longtime tradition of the Wisconsin Idea. In addition to the Academy Evenings, the organization has conducted major studies of pressing Wisconsin issues, from the state of its water resources to the challenges facing family farmers and rural Wisconsin.

It publishes a quality quarterly magazine, Wisconsin People and Ideas, and operates the noted James Watrous Gallery, a constantly changing display of Wisconsin art, on the top floor of the Overture building on State Street.

Former state legislator Margaret Lewis has been the director of the Academy for the past five years, but announced just this week that she will be retiring at the end of the year.

She will preside over the Nov. 6th program when seven more fellows will be added to the Academy during ceremonies at Monona Terrace .

"I'm proud to have served the Wisconsin Academy and to see its thought-provoking core programs thrive," she said in a letter to Academy members. "I look forward to assisting in the transition to a new leader and congratulate you all on your fortitude in supporting the Academy through challenging economic times."