Kathy Cramer, the University of Wisconsin-Madison political science professor best known for “The Politics of Resentment,” her 2016 book exploring discontent among rural voters, is headed back to research after a stint leading the Morgridge Center for Public Service.
It seemed the best way, Cramer told the Cap Times, to continue an examination of class and democracy that emerged from her journeys across the state and gained national attention as a bellwether of the cultural shift that led to the election of President Donald Trump.
“In my job at the Morgridge Center, in my teaching, and in my public speaking, I stress that people should figure out how they can best contribute their talents in service of the public good. It became clear to me in the months after the presidential election that right now one of the ways I can best contribute is through my research,” Cramer said. “So I am stepping away from the faculty director job to do that, and to focus more on my daughter.”
The Morgridge Center helps advance the Wisconsin Idea by developing and promoting civic engagement and learning through service within communities across the state and around the globe. Cramer headed the center since 2014, according to a news release.
She is returning to a full-time position as a professor in the political science department at UW-Madison, in which she will also get the opportunity to teach more than her schedule at Morgridge allowed, Cramer said.
One class she continued to teach is "Citizenship, Democracy and Difference," a community-based learning course that Cramer said “engages students in work with community centers and the city of Madison government to enable the students to learn the course content on political participation and civic engagement in a democracy more deeply and to contribute their skills to the Madison community.”
At the Morgridge Center, Cramer helped bring discussions of equity and inclusion into the overall operations and daily life of center staff and implementing that into the center’s new strategic plan.
“Democracy means that we are governing each other,” Cramer said. “To do that well, you have to create institutions that are welcoming to everyone, and you have to foster the civic skills that promote understanding of each other.”
Cramer said she was proud to get the conversation going, but that the center has embraced that work.
“You can see its impact in our programs and our daily operations. The fact that it’s just so normal now–that’s the great thing about it I think,” she said.