2019-2020 Events

  • April 20, 2020: Annual Earth Day Conference, on the theme Earth Day @ 50: Aspiring for Sustainability, Striving for Justice, Crafting the Earth, Monona Terrace, details pending. 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and Progressive Ideas Forum will be a major sponsor of this celebration.

About the Forum


The Forum is supported by a fund established to honor Laurie Carlson's lifelong commitment to progressive ideas, laws and policies. Formed by his family, the fund is designed to provide support to University programs that present, explore and discuss current progressive issues in law, legal institutions, public policy and social thought.  While the Forum will initiate its own speakers and programs, it also seeks to encourage and assist learning opportunities suggested by others in various formats, including guest speakers, discussion panels, seminars, workshops, and classroom activities.  One goal of the Forum is to promote an exchange of ideas that joins the University community with the local community, by, among other things, fostering a discussion of current progressive ideas and issues on campus and encouraging public participation in Forum-sponsored events.

About Laurie E. Carlson (1908-1999)

Laurie Carlson was born in Bayfield, Wisconsin.  His first political involvement occurred at age 12, when he and his father traveled Bayfield County in a horse-drawn wagon, campaigning with Robert La Follette, Sr.  This experience coupled with later meetings with Bob La Follete left an impression that would stay with Carlson for a lifetime.  In 1934, Carlson helped form the State Progressive Party, along with La Follette sons, Phil and Bob, Jr.  Carlson won election as a Progressive to the State Legislature in 1936 at age 28 and served until 1942.  After his legislative career, Carlson began a career in business, but was always very active in Wisconsin politics.  In 1969, the Dane County Democratic Party prevailed on Laurie to run for Clerk of Courts, and he served four terms before retiring from public office.  In 1986, Governor Tony Earl honored Carlson with a Proclamation declaring him a "state treasure."  Laurie died in 1999 at age 91, fighting to the end for the poor, the common people, the rights of labor, civil rights, and the protection of the environment.

Suggestions for Forum Programs

Individuals or groups interested in making suggestions for Forum programs should prepare a description of the program including a draft budget and submit at least three months before the proposed event to:

Sumudu Atapattu
University of Wisconsin Law School
975 Bascom Mall, Madison, WI 53706
Email: sumudu.atapattu@wisc.edu
Phone: 608-890-1395 

Past speakers and programs

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