Center for the Study of Institutions and Innovation

CSII's mission and staff support programs on campus, in the community and across the region.
In this Section

CSII logoThe Center for the Study of Institutions and Innovation (CSII) mission is to promote the study and discussion of civil liberties and related institutions (governmental, civic, business, social, scientific, religious, etc.) and innovations through scholarly inquiry, educational activities and community outreach. 

CSII is housed in the College of Arts, Communication, Humanities and Social Science, and subject to UW-System, UW-Stout, and Stout Foundation policies and procedures. 

A Board of Advisors composed of UW-Stout shared governance representatives, participating institutions representatives, and others provides guidance to the CSII Director.

Sept. 8 2018 Student Free Speech Workshop

This is a “hands-on” event in which students will hear from national experts in free speech and address key issues, including but not limited to the new UWRegents academic freedom and freedom of expression policy and twenty (brief) selected free speech cases. Students accepted to the workshop will be sent the Regent policy and cases prior to the event to prepare for discussion. Students who complete the workshop will be paid $150.


Registration is limited to 24 participants. Deadline to register is August 10, 2018.
Apply now by sending an email to including: 

  • a request to participate in the workshop, and
  • a Word document attachment not more than 250 words providing student’s academic year, academic program, and interest in the workshop.
  • use the email subject heading “Sept 8 CSII workshop”.


9:30 a.m. Registration
10:00 a.m. Introduction, Dr. Tim Shiell, CSII Director
10:15 -11:15 a.m. Azhar Majeed, Vice President of Policy Reform, Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE)
11:15 – 11:30 a.m. Break
11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Dr. Don Downs, UW-Madison emeritus professor and faculty consultant to Institute for Human Studies Free Speech and Open Inquiry Project
12:30 - 1:00 p.m. Lunch (provided)
1:00 – 1:55 p.m. Facilitated Group Work on Cases
1:55 – 2:05 p.m. Break
2:05 – 3:00 p.m. Group Reports and Discussion
3:00 – 3:30 p.m. Closing Remarks and Activities, Shiell

Speaker Spotlight

Nadine Strossen, she will be speaking to the CSII Board of Advisors and giving a public talk on Friday, September 28, 2018 at Ripon College in Ripon, WI.

Friday, September 28, 2018

12:30 - 2 p.m.

Meeting with CSII Board of Advisor

2:30 p.m. Local media interview with Ripon Commonwealth
4:30 - 5:30 p.m.

Public Presentation - "Hate: Why we should resist it with free speech, not censorship"
Great Hall in the Student Union, Ripon College

Nadine Strossen Bio

Nadine Strossen is the John Marshall Harlan II Professor of Law at New York Law School. She has written, taught, and advocated extensively in the areas of constitutional law and civil liberties. From 1991 to 2008, she was President of the American Civil Liberties Union, the first woman to head the nation’s largest and oldest civil liberties organization.

She has more than 300 published works. Her most recent book, HATE: Why We Should Resist It With Free Speech, Not Censorship, was published by Oxford University Press in 2018. She has received dozens of awards, including the American Bar Association’s Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award in 2017. She serves on numerous organizational boards and the Council on Foreign Relations.

Professor Strossen has made thousands of public presentations, including more than 500 campuses and many foreign countries. She comments frequently on legal issues in the national media, having appeared on virtually every national news program. She has been a monthly columnist for two online publications and a weekly commentator on the Talk America Radio Network. Further information is located on her New York Law School faculty page.

CSII Programs & Participating Institutions

CSII's mission and staff support the following programs on campus, in the community and across the region.

Student Research

CSII provides $1000 awards (up to $2500 for exceptional proposals) to students to support research and scholarship on civil liberties and their relationship to institutions and innovation. Only students, undergraduate or graduate, enrolled full time at institutions participating in the CSII campus network are eligible. Applicants are encouraged to contact the CSII Director about potential proposals. Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis.

Speaker Grants

CSII provides grants to support public discussion of civil liberties or the relationship of civil liberties to relevant institutions or innovation. Proposals may be submitted by individuals or organizations. Organizational proposals must identify one individual as the lead proposer. Applicants are encouraged to contact the CSII Director about potential proposals. Applications are accepted on a continuous basis. Preference is given to proposals that involve presentation of multiple points of view, for example, a speaker with a responding panel, a dialogue / debate between two or more speakers, or a speaker series. Preference also is given to proposals that are co-sponsored by additional campus or community organizations. CSII funded events should be open to the public and provide opportunity for audience involvement. 

Participating Institutions

To support its mission, CSII provides funds to other public and private universities and colleges in Wisconsin to promote the study and discussion of civil liberties and their relationships to institutions and innovation. In 2017-2018, there are eighteen participating institutions: UW-Eau Claire, UW-Green Bay, UW-La Crosse, UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Oshkosh, UW-Parkside, UW-Platteville, UW-River Falls, UW-Stevens Point, UW-Whitewater, Alverno College, Lawrence University, Marian University, Marquette University, Ripon College, St. Norbert College, Viterbo University. 

Participating institutions receive funds to conduct programming supporting CSII mission and designate a campus coordinator to organize the programming. Programming can include speakers, debates or panels; book groups; faculty-supervised student research; workshops; and more. All programming is expected to include multiple points of view. 

Faculty and students at participating institutions are eligible to apply for the Faculty and Student Research Awards and Speaker Grants.

CSII Funding

CSII is funded by a four-year $1.7 million award from the Charles Koch Foundation.  The agreement protects the academic freedom of the center and its staff, provides transparency to the public, and gives control of the center to the university.  A copy of the agreement between the university and Charles Koch Foundation is available from the Stout University Foundation. 

 UW-Stout and the Charles Koch Foundation both recognized a significant need for increased education and discussion—guided by civil and rational debate reflecting a diversity of perspectives—regarding civil liberties and their relationship to institutions and innovations. 



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