Welcome to the Upper House Fellows Program!

The Upper House Fellows Program offers graduate and undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison a unique community for intellectual and spiritual formation. The program helps students grow in theological understanding, connect their faith to their academic studies and sense of vocation, and prepare for lives of leadership and service.

Over the academic year, fellows from different Christian traditions and fields of study meet every other week for a meal and interactive learning. 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.

The Fellows Program is rooted in a historic and ecumenical understanding of Christianity that aligns with Upper House’s Statement of Faith. Fellows, program leaders, and readings bridge boundaries across denominational, ethnic, racial, and social lines. We welcome applications from students of all backgrounds.

Meeting Format and Tracks

We meet from 5:45 to 8:00 p.m. on every other Monday through the academic year. After a time of gathering prayer, we socialize over a meal together and then break into separate tracks for instructor-led learning and discussion. We are pleased to offer three tracks in 2022-23.

Wondering where to start? If you expect to be in Madison for multiple years, we recommend that you begin with “Reading the Bible as a Story” and proceed through “Called to Flourish” and area-specific tracks in subsequent years. Each situation is unique, however, and we encourage you to contact us with any questions about what makes most sense for you.

 

Reading the Bible as a Story

The Bible comprises many books, penned by many authors; they are written in a variety of genres, address a variety of issues, and tell stories from different places and times. However, below the surface of this glorious diversity lies a single story. This story is about the main character, God, and his tireless efforts to establish his reign on earth in order to restore the world from rebellion, corruption, and death. Learning to read the Bible so that we can see this story is critical to our formation as followers of Jesus Christ. Understanding this grand narrative reveals to us God’s character, his mission for the world, and our role in that mission. In our sessions we will explore in detail this great story and learn how it all fits together. Fellows will read selections from the Bible as well as the work of contemporary scholars.

This track is led by Charles Yu.

Called to Flourish

What does it mean to live a flourishing life? How can we discern and live out our callings right now? In this track we delve into questions of Christian identity, vocation, and work. During the fall semester we consider what it means to be God’s image-bearers and how our primary calling to follow Jesus by loving God and neighbor in our various endeavors gives our lives direction and purpose. In the spring semester we go on to ask what all this means for our work, career aspirations, and big life decisions. How should our gifts and passions, our communities and constraints, our opportunities and the world’s needs shape our life choices? And how can living in light of God’s renewing work fuel our endeavors? To explore these questions we will engage with scripture, a diverse range of writings, and occasional guest speakers.

This track is led by Eric Carlsson and Rebecca Cooks.

Arts and Culture

This track celebrates the vital contribution of the arts to our shared cultural life and affirms God’s invitation to us to participate in them. From architecture and design to poetry and dance, and from music and painting to fiction and film, the arts exist according to the creative agency of their makers. While the Arts and Culture track will host a large conversation about making and meaning, our more focused goals are threefold: to establish a Christian understanding of art and culture; to gain clarity regarding God’s call to the arts; and to acquire some practical habits and skills that contribute to artistic success. During our times together we will read books and essays, attend exhibits and performances, learn from conversations with invited guests (virtual and in person). In the spring semester, it may be possible for track members to design and host a collaborative project or performance.

This track is led by Cameron Anderson and Euimin Shin.

Leadership Team and Track Instructors

The Fellows Program is led by a team of experienced instructors with a passion for mentoring graduate and undergraduate students at UW-Madison. Meet our team.

Meet the Fellows

Read what some of our current and past Fellows say about the program.

Schedule

Fall 2022: We will meet at Upper House every other Monday, 5:45-8:00 p.m., September 12 through December 5. In addition we will hold an all-day retreat on Saturday, September 17, as well as occasional social events.

Spring 2023: To kick off the semester, we will hold an all-day retreat at Upper House on Saturday, January 28. Our regular meetings will be held 5:45-8:00 p.m. on every other Monday from February 6 through May 1, along with optional social events at other times.

Apply

Fill out the short application here.

The Upper House Fellows Program is open to current graduate and undergraduate students at UW-Madison. We also consider applications from those who have graduated within the past three years (since 2020).

Priority application deadline: May 6.

Regular application deadline: August 15.

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. If you apply by the priority deadline and are accepted to the program, we will guarantee a spot in your first-choice track. For later applications, while we will make an effort to honor your track choices, applications will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis as spots remain available.

Questions? Please email us at fellows@slbrownfoundation.org