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 fellows will participate in the following activities as program funds permit:

  • 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

ELISS fellows volunteer an average of five hours per week to organize and participate in ELISS-related activities including: on-campus and virtual planning meetings, issue-related events for campus and community stakeholders, and leadership development 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.