The EAP program has its origins in the 1970s, a period of intense public interest in energy issues. An important precursor of the EAP program occurred in the mid-1970s when Professors Wes Foell, John Steinhart, Charlie Ciccheti, and John Mitchell initiated an energy seminar and developed the Wisconsin energy modeling capacity. This model led to a highly productive “Wisconsin Idea” exchange between students, state agencies, and the WI Public Service Commission. This collaboration, which ultimately involved hiring students to work in state government, led to analytical support for state policy making, transfer of the modeling capability, the development of an annual Wisconsin Energy Statistics report, as well as initiatives in renewables and energy efficiency.

In the late 1970’s George Bunn, Professor of Law and Environmental Studies discussed with State Senators Joe Strohl and Tom Harnish and Representative Sharon Metz the prospect of UW-Madison offering a graduate degree in “energy studies.” Letters were sent to UW-Madison in 1979 from Senator Tom Harnish and Representative Sharon Metz inquiring about the intentions of the campus to offer a degree program in energy studies and urging creation of such an option. This led to George Bunn assembling a faculty committee whose task it was to shape a curriculum focusing on energy issues. From its inception, cross-campus collaboration has been central to the program, as committee members included: Steve Born (Urban and Regional Planning), Charles Cicchetti (Economics, Environmental Studies), Wes Foell (Engineering Experimental Station), Duncan Harkin (Agricultural Economics), Leon Lindberg (Political Science), Jim Skiles (Electrical and Computer Engineering), John Steinhart (Geology and Geophysics), and Rodney Stevenson (Business). The EAP program was approved by the Graduate School to begin enrolling students in Fall 1980.

At its inception, EAP was designed as a 40-credit program that could be earned concurrently with a M.S. degree in Environment & Resources (at that time called Land Resources), URPL, or La Follette. During its first 20 years, approximately 90 students completed the EAP certificate, but by year 2000 enrollment had dropped to only 2 students. In response to low enrollment numbers, in 1999 EAP was modified to become a more tightly defined 18-credit certificate that could be earned concurrently with any graduate degree at UW-Madison.

EAP enrollment grew as students from a wider array of programs, especially in engineering, registered for the certificate. Over the past 18 years approximately 130 students have earned the EAP certificate. Roughly 2/3 of students have come from the three original disciplines (E&R, URPL, Public Affairs), while roughly 1/5 of the graduates have come from the College of Engineering. Roughly 80% of the graduates have earned MS degrees while 20% have earned a Ph.D. As of Spring 2018 there were approximately 220 EAP alumni. They are employed in non-profits, government, the private sector, and academia among other types of organizations.

The current EAP executive committee includes the EAP Academic Coordinator and eight UW-Madison faculty members, representing eight different UW academic programs and four colleges. The group includes the four faculty hired from 2001–07 through the University-wide Cluster Hiring Initiative in Energy Sources, and Policy (the “Energy Cluster Faculty”), Prof. Wilson, Prof. Holloway, Prof. Nemet, and Prof. Lesieutre. Besides the Energy Cluster Faculty, all other committee members serve EAP without any structural commitment. EAP faculty teach classes, advise students, and provide graduate student assistantships. EAP faculty interact with the broader UW-Madison academic community on issues related to energy technology, energy and the environment, energy economics and energy policy. Cross-campus collaboration is further enhanced through the faculty’s participation in the leadership of the Wisconsin Energy Institute (WEI).


Chairs of the EAP program have been:

  • George Bunn 1980-1983
  • John Steinhart 1983-1993
  • Rodney Stevenson 1993-1997
  • John Mitchell 1997-1999
  • Douglas Reinemann 1999-2005
  • Michael Corradini 2005-2008
  • Paul Wilson 2008-2013
  • Greg Nemet 2013-2018
  • Paul Wilson 2018-present


The EAP program is part of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, partnered with the Wisconsin Energy Institute