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'What’s the Big Idea?' Richard Davidson Speaks at Investiture Ceremony
April 13, 2023

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McKenzie Zdrale

When Professor Chris Walker thinks about what makes being a Badger special, he thinks about how Badgerhood is a gift of learning, given from one generation to another.

“We’re in the business, of information, of innovation,” he says, “and of sharing so that others are capable of being innovative.”

Walker was one of six University of Wisconsin–Madison faculty and alumni speakers at Wisconsin Ideas: Inspiration and Insights from Extraordinary Badgers. The April 12 event was part of the investiture celebration for UW–Madison’s new chancellor, Jennifer L. Mnookin.

John Zumbrunnen, the university’s vice provost for teaching and learning, hosted Wisconsin Ideas, and speakers included political science professor Kathy Cramer; Richard Davidson, professor of psychology and psychiatry and founding director of UW’s Center for Healthy Minds; ginseng farmer and entrepreneur Will Hsu ’00; Vanessa McDowell ’03, CEO of the YWCA of Madison; CNN reporter Manu Raju ’02; and Chris Walker, a professor of dance and director of UW’s Division of the Arts.

Chancellor Mnookin asked each of them to speak about what motivates them. “What matters most to you?” she asked. “What captivates your imagination? What drives you forward?”

Davidson said that there are two trends that keep him working. One is bad: on a variety of measures, “wellbeing is going downhill globally,” he said. Psychiatric disorders and loneliness are both on the rise. But the other piece of news is good: people can learn to improve their wellbeing. “The same mechanisms in our brains that encode suffering are the same mechanisms we can harness for good.”

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Article Excerpt by John Allen [Read Full Article]

Photos by McKenzie Zdrale for University of Wisconsin Foundation