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 that impacts multiple communities. For example, in 2015, the fellows addressed the question: How can our cities prepare for disease epidemics?

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, systems thinking, 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 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.