Program Description

ELISS is an extracurricular, volunteer experience for graduate and professional students. Fellows collaborate with a multi-campus ELISS team to help local and national stakeholders better understand and address a complex issue in one of two theme areas: Energy & Environment or Health & Wellbeing.

By working with an interdisciplinary team to engage multiple communities around a tough problem, fellows develop 21st century leadership skills such as: communicating with diverse audiences, collaborating with a distributed team, creative problem solving, and entrepreneurial thinking.

Fellows will travel three times and volunteer approximately 5 hours per week to:

  • Engage stakeholders and experts in their community to better understand the causes of and potential solutions to a complex issue;
  • Interact with mentors to develop leadership skills and support ELISS project goals;
  • Organize community events and web resources that promote dialogue among stakeholders and share ideas across regions and institutions about an important issue impacting all communities;
  • Contribute to the development and improvement of ELISS as an organization.

ELISS anticipates providing funding for the following activities:

  • Multi-day orientation
  • Mid-year, in-person team planning meeting
  • Campus events and team projects
  • Virtual learning and planning sessions
  • Culminating briefing for national leaders
  • Professional development and seed grants

Time Commitment

The class of 2016 will participate as “fellows-in-training” alongside the current ELISS class starting upon acceptance in October 2015 until orientation in January, 2016. During this period, they will contribute approximately three hours per week to the following activities: assisting current fellows, exploring potential topics, and attending ELISS-related discussions and social events. After orientation, fellows will contribute approximately five hours per week to ELISS activities.

Theme Areas

Two broad, cross–disciplinary theme areas serve as a focal point for recruiting ELISS fellows, advisors, and sponsors with shared interests: Health & Wellbeing and Environment & Energy. During orientation, fellows select an issue that falls into one or both themes. The class of 2015 is exploring opportunities for cities to prepare for widespread disease epidemics. The class of 2014 split into teams around three topics: mental health, public spaces, and nutrition. We intend to launch additional themes in subsequent years based on interest from sponsors and students.