It’s no secret that the University of Wisconsin–Madison has faculty in a wide range of fields all across campus. But some of the best ideas are generated from conversations between people with different areas of expertise.

That’s part of the goal of the cluster hiring initiative, designed to foster collaborative research, education and outreach by creating new interdisciplinary areas of knowledge that cross the boundaries of existing academic departments. UW–Madison’s Cluster Hiring Initiative was launched in 1998 as an innovative partnership between the university, state and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF). The university and WARF have just funded six new cluster hire initiatives, on topics ranging from Arab studies to biomanufacturing.

“UW-Madison has long been a leader in taking this interdisciplinary approach,” says Provost Sarah Mangelsdorf. “This is an investment in our university’s future and strengthens our commitment to our research, education and outreach mission. This not only provides an opportunity for faculty members to work together across disciplines, it encourages us to think bigger in our approach to research, learning and problem solving.”

Forty-eight proposals were submitted for a first round of cluster hires, with six proposals chosen to be funded. Submissions for a second round of proposals will be announced next week with a deadline of April 2, 2018.

“The proposals were chosen on the basis of their ability to catalyze new, pathbreaking areas of research, to engage researchers and students alike, and to provide the foundation for new areas of teaching and outreach,” says Michael Bernard-Donals, Vice Provost for Faculty and Staff. “In their focus on the interrelation of research and teaching, and the outcomes of the work for the public good, they are excellent examples of the Wisconsin Idea in action.”

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