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 2015 will participate as “fellows-in-training” under the mentorship the current ELISS class starting upon acceptance in October 2014 until orientation in January, 2015. Fellows-in-training will contribute approximately three hours per week to the following activities: assisting current fellows, organizing a public service activity, attending ELISS social events, and participating in an online journal club. After orientation, the training period will end and 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 split into several multi–campus teams and select an issue that falls into one or both themes. The class of 2014 selected the following issues:

  • Mental Health: opportunities and challenges of the Affordable Healthcare Act
  • Public Spaces: impacts on economy, environment, and human wellbeing
  • Food and Nutrition: influence of food labeling on food choices

We will launch additional themes in subsequent years based on interest from sponsors and students.