Welcome to the Upper House Fellows Program!

Welcome to a unique community for intellectual and spiritual formation for graduate and undergraduate students at UW–Madison! 

Bringing together the thoughtful depth of a university course with the lively pursuit of spiritual growth, the Upper House Fellows Program is your place to ask the deeper questions about faith, your sense of vocation, and being a follower Jesus Christ in a complex and pluralistic world. 

Over the academic year, our fellows and leaders from different Christian traditions, social and ethnic backgrounds, 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 lives and callings. 

Whatever your background or questions, you are welcome here. We can’t wait to meet you. 

Watch the 2024-25 Preview Video

Community Gatherings and Tracks

Four tracks led by experienced instructors are on offer for 2024-25. Meet the leaders.

Fellows meet every other Monday through the academic year, from 5:45 to 8:00 PM. Our gatherings typically begin with socializing over a meal provided by Upper House. After a brief time of reflection and communal prayer, we break into separate tracks for instructor-led learning and discussion, followed by dessert for those who want to continue conversing. In addition to our regular meetings, we hold occasional retreats, social events, summer Bible studies, and more. For dates and details about this year’s meetings, see the 2024-25 schedule.

The Drama of Scripture led by Kevin Chau and Jon Dahl

From Genesis to Revelation, the Christian Bible offers a grand drama—a story about God, humans, and the world. The scriptures were composed over many centuries by a host of authors who wrote in a range of genres to address a variety of ancient communities. Yet within these gloriously diverse writings that make up the biblical canon there lies an overarching narrative. It’s an epic tale about God’s mission to restore the world from brokenness, chaos, and death, and to bring wholeness, justice, and peace to humans and all of creation. Reading the Bible as a narrative changes the way we understand both its individual parts and its overall message. In this track we’ll learn how to read the Bible so that we can see this fascinating story, and we’ll ask what it has to say to us today.

Living the Good Life led by Rebecca Cooks and Cam Anderson

What kind of life are you working toward? How can you discern what it should be about? Who will be a part of your good life? What will you do when life doesn’t go as planned? 

This track takes a deep dive into an essential topic that we as people intrinsically wrestle with: What am I made for? No matter our background or experience, we each have assumptions and hopes for the kind of life we want and what will make that life “good.” University years are pivotal for exploring this important question, yet there is rarely time to reflect on the nature of a truly “good life,” to question our assumptions and revisit our hopes. 

Join this cohort to examine this essential question—to sift through the motivations, means, and ends of living the Good Life. We can’t promise that you will discover the Good Life by the end of this track, but we feel confident you will be ready to pursue it. [Check out Rebecca’s brief introductory video!]

Making a Difference led by Jean Geran and Dan Hummel

Do you want to make a difference in the world? Most of us spend more than half of our waking hours at work or study in some organizational context. Yet, work can be the part of our lives where we struggle most to find meaning and purpose. As Christians, we are called to participate in God’s creative and redemptive mission not only in our relationships, families, and churches, but also in schools, companies, non-profits, governments, and elsewhere. These organizations can be religious or secular, big or small, morally clear or morally ambiguous. What is God’s redemptive purpose for such organizations? And what is our role in pointing them toward God’s light in order to serve the common good? This track offers biblical insights, a conceptual framework, practical tools, and real-life examples for answering those questions and responding to God’s call on our working lives.  

Christianity and Culture led by Eric Carlsson and Maggie Flamingo

How should Christians relate to culture? Ever since the earliest church, all forms of Christianity have been embedded in particular cultures. These have varied enormously across time and place. From the beginning, Christians have also taken a variety of stances about how to relate to culture. Drawing on a range of voices from the past and different parts of the world, we will begin by exploring key models of how followers of Christ have interacted with culture. Then, drawing on these frameworks, we will consider how we might navigate some of the most pressing cultural issues of today. Together, track members will decide which current issues to focus on—nothing is off the table. Overall, our goal is to become better equipped to engage the world around us faithfully and fruitfully. 

Fellows’ Testimonials

Graduate students, undergraduate students, and even recent graduates—all representing a range of fields and interests—share their experiences in the Upper House Fellows Program.

Read Fellows’ testimonials here. 

Apply or Inquire

Apply 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.

Applications for the 2024-25 academic year are accepted on a rolling basis until the start of the fall 2024 semester. If you apply by the priority deadline of May 15 and are accepted to the program, we will make every effort to place you in your first-choice track. Later applications will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis as spots remain available.

After you apply, a Fellows team member will contact you to set up a brief interview to learn more about you, discuss your interest in the program, and answer any questions you have.

Questions? Please email us at fellows@slbrownfoundation.org