The Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems

The Department of Community and Environmental Sociology and Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems have many things in common. For instance, both are committed to interdisciplinary research that tackles real-life problems outside the boundaries of academia.

Since the summer of 2009, CIAS and DCES have shared more than a common focus. The two units are linked in an administrative hub headed by Kari Straus. CIAS is currently led by three interim faculty co-directors, two of whom–Daniel Kleinman and Jack Kloppenburg–are DCES faculty. The third co-director–Russell Groves–is an assistant professor in the Entomology Department.

For nearly 21 years, CIAS has been at the cutting edge of economic, environmental and social sustainability in agriculture. It was founded by a grassroots coalition of farmers, nonprofit organizations and UW-Madison faculty who successfully advocated for state funding for sustainable agriculture work on campus.

Over the years, CIAS has maintained its grassroots connections through a Citizens Advisory Council that advises CIAS staff and faculty about research and education needs in the field. The majority of the council’s members are family farmers practicing sustainable agriculture.

CIAS is perhaps best known for its many years of research, education and outreach on managed grazing. It was also an early leader in local food in campus cafeterias, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and other food systems that connect consumers with farmers and the land.

Current CIAS work includes farm-to-school, scaling up processing and distribution to meet the increasing demand for local food, and more. Its managed grazing work continues with a recent grant from the Wisconsin Institute for Sustainable Agriculture that will foster participatory research.

Want to learn more about CIAS? Check out the website: Or, visit the CIAS staff on the second floor of the Ag Bulletin Building next to Soils.

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