What is the Fellows Program?

The Upper House Fellows Program offers undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison a unique community for intellectual and spiritual formation. The program is designed to help students deepen their theological understanding and connect their faith to their academic studies and sense of vocation.

Over the academic year, cohorts of 10-12 Fellows from a range of Christian traditions meet every other week for a meal and a guided conversation around a set of common readings. As we build community, we draw on scripture and diverse Christian voices to explore how the gospel sheds light on our identity as humans and gives shape to our callings in the world.

What to Expect

God’s Mission, Our Calling. During the Fall 2020 semester we will consider the grand narrative of scripture and the story it tells about God’s work to redeem and renew the world. Questions we explore include: What does it mean to be created in the image of God? How does the story of the Hebrew scriptures connect to the gospel message about Jesus and the kingdom of God? What is the biblical vision of human flourishing? And what does all this mean for our lives and academic studies right now?

In Spring 2021 we will delve deeper into the question of vocation and its practical implications. Drawing on a range of writers and guest speakers, we will consider our work and callings in light of the gospel. Among other things, we will ask: How do our talents, passions, education, and life experience give shape to our vocational direction? How can a vision of God’s renewing work fuel our endeavors? Together we will learn from people who have thought deeply about these questions and who have lived out their callings in multiple ways.

The Fellows Program approaches these questions from an ecumenical and historic understanding of the Christian tradition that aligns with Upper House’s Statement of Faith. Readings come from an array of voices and bridge traditional boundaries across ethnic, denominational, and historical divides. We welcome applications from students of all Christian traditions and backgrounds.


The Fellows Program is led by Program Director Dr. Eric Carlsson (r) and Dr. Daniel Hummel (l), Program Curator for Academic Communities at Upper House.

Program Structure

After completing the first year of the program, Fellows will have the opportunity to take electives in areas focused on specific vocational-theological integration. Drawing from the wealth of expertise and talent within Upper House and the UW-Madison community, possible Year Two electives include:

  • Christianity and the Arts
  • Leadership and the Marketplace
  • Justice and Society
  • Christianity and Science
  • Themes in Theology and Biblical Studies

Second-year electives will be offered on a revolving basis, depending on Year One cohort interests, available teachers, and the thematic emphases in broader Upper House programming. The first Year Two electives (to begin in September 2021) will be announced in the spring of 2021.

Any Fellow who completes Year One and a Year Two elective will receive an Upper House Fellows Program Certificate. Any such Fellow will also will have priority in enrolling in an additional Year Two elective if desired.


We are pleased to be able to offer the Fellows Program—including meals, readings, and two all-day retreats—at no cost this year. Space is limited so apply soon!


Fall 2020: Meet at Upper House every other Monday, 5:30-7:30 PM, September 14 through December 7

Fall 2020: Retreat at Dottie’s Ranch (Oregon, WI), Saturday, September 19, 9:00 AM-4:00 PM

Spring 2021: Meet at Upper House every other Monday, 5:30-7:30 PM, January 25 through May 3

Spring 2021: Retreat at Dottie’s Ranch (Oregon, WI), Saturday, January 30, 9:00 AM-4:00 PM

What Fellows Are Saying

“The Fellows Program is a fantastic opportunity to learn more about theology, talk with believers from a variety of backgrounds, and consider how faith can be enacted in your vocation.” — Tori, graduate student

“The Fellows Program will open your eyes to how big, rich, and colorful the Christian faith is. It is also a great chance to get valuable theological education that will help you follow Jesus.” — Martin, recent graduate

“If you are not interested in growing in your faith and meeting new people interested in doing the same, then this program is NOT for you. However, anyone who does want to dive into Christian teaching and how it applies to student life side-by-side with those who share in their interest should apply for this Fellows Program ASAP.” — Tierney, undergraduate student

A Note to Prospective Fellows

We aim to launch the full Fellows Program in Fall 2020. While we hope to gather in person, our initial meetings may be online depending on COVID-19 conditions and UW-Madison plans.


To apply for the Fellows Program, you must:

  • Be a UW-Madison student (undergraduate or graduate) during the 2020-21 academic year, or have graduated in the past three years (2017)
  • Be committed to participate in all Fellows events each semester, including biweekly gatherings, an all-day retreat each semester, and occasional other Fellows social events

Interested? Please fill out the application below!