The Wisconsin Idea



The Wisconsin Idea


One of the longest and deepest traditions surrounding the University of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Idea signifies a general principle: that education should influence people’s lives beyond the boundaries of the classroom. Synonymous with Wisconsin for more than a century, this “Idea” has become the guiding philosophy of university outreach efforts in Wisconsin and throughout the world.



The French House

A francophone residence for students, a cultural center for the community, and one of the first of its kind on any US campus, the French House opened its doors in 1918 and was incorporated in 1922. In addition to conferences, film series, and other special events, the French House is a favorite dining spot for Madison francophones and francophiles.  Wednesday dinner and Friday lunch are open to the general public.  Lunch Monday through Friday is open to all students and those that attend regularly can receive credit for their participation. Visit the French House website for more information about living and dining at the French House as well as the many events that the French House hosts.


La Maison Francaise is turning 100!


With more than 2,000 undergraduate residents over the years, scores of conferences and lectures hosted and celebrated, and who knows how many baguettes and bourguignons consumed, what was once a bright idea of a few dedicated faculty in 1918 has blossomed into a Madison landmark.


The French House will celebrate its 100th anniversary beginning in January 2018. Events will take place throughout the year for current residents, students of French, alumni, and Friends of the French House and will culminate in our Centennial Celebration the weekend of UW’s Homecoming 2018. To help us gather memories and ideas, organizers of the celebration would like to hear from our alumni and friends. If you have any special memories or photos to share, please submit them at



High School Visits

The Department of French and Italian regularly hosts groups of visiting French and Italian high school students from the throughout the State. Students spend a day observing university language courses, having lunch at the French House or on State Street, and enjoying campus and its many attractions. If you are interested in organizing a visit for your class, please contact the Undergraduate Coordinator or fill out a Group Reservation form



Center for Interdisciplinary French Studies (CIFS)

The Center for Interdisciplinary French Studies is committed to the advancement of French studies across disciplines at UW-Madison and throughout the world. Since 2000, the CIFS has worked to facilitate diverse collaborations, the development of new teaching programs, research partnerships with francophone institutions, student exchanges, guest visits, and outreach activities to foster collaboration between individuals interested in French Studies. Visit the CIFS website for more information and for examples of recent projects.  



Community Initiatives

The Department of French and Italian’s Climate Committee organizes a community initiative each semester during the Academic Year to benefit local charities and organizations. Last year, the Department collected food stuffs, winter clothing, and school supplies for The Open Seat (UW-Madison’s student food pantry), refugee resettlement agencies, and the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County. The French and Italian Climate Committee seeks to foster a positive and supportive work environment for faculty, staff, and students.