Common Ground with… Joe Boersma

John Boersma is a postdoctoral fellow in the political science department at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he teaches political theory and constitutional law. When he is not reading and writing, he can often be found biking the many trails that the great city of Madison has to offer with his family.

What do you think is the biggest challenge our community faces?

As a “university city,” we face a challenge that many other university cities face as well — the ability to provide quality, affordable housing for students and families to live in and near the university. Often, our response to the lack of affordable housing is to increase the number of quickly constructed apartment buildings, or prefabricated housing that is not designed to last. Creating affordable, sustainable and beautiful neighborhoods that are consonant with the surrounding landscape is a constant challenge in university towns/cities.

What do you wish people in our community understood better?
I wish that the people in our community had a greater awareness of the importance of liberal arts education. UW–Madison is a research university, and, in this regard, it makes great contributions to the specialized knowledge our society requires. If our community were more conscious of the importance of a liberal arts education that encouraged students to wrestle with the fundamental human questions, this research specialization could be balanced with a more wholistic understanding of the human person and his relationship with society.

What is one change you would make if you could that would make life better for people in our community?
One change that I would make that would make life better for people in our community is to cultivate a shared appreciation for the fine arts. I think it would be great to have outdoor, public, classical music concerts during the summer months. This would foster a sense of community, get people out of their houses into the public spaces, and would introduce people to the beauty of classical music.

What in our community gives you hope?
I would have to say without reservation that my students give me hope. My students work very hard, think deeply about life’s questions, and express an appreciation and concern for one another. Overall, their kindness and dedication give me great optimism for our community’s future. 


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