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UIC Summer Institute on Sustainability and Energy (SISE) – Call for Application! Due Jun 1, 2021

About SISE

The Summer Institute on Sustainability and Energy (SISE) is usually described as an annual two-week "boot camp" on energy and sustainability — but it’s much more. SISE is a “we,” a community invested in broad issues related to energy, the environment, and sustainability, and a space that values diverse people, disciplines, perspectives, and experiences. Within this space, we engage with future and current thought leaders and societal influencers. Through conversation, critical thinking, and community engagement, we create and share knowledge to shape the future.

SISE 2021 Theme: Finding Ecosystem

Since March 2020, the idea of staying within one’s “bubble” has been a necessary part of daily life. But bubbles are not new, and individuals have been in “bubbles” their whole lives. Some are elected, such as political or ideological affiliations, and some are assigned due to race or gender. We can move freely between some bubbles, and sometimes we can exist in two bubbles simultaneously.

Bubbles. Silos. Ecosystems. Depending on one’s frameworks, and whether we consider the micro or the macro levels, perspectives gained can be focused or broad, restrictive, or all-encompassing. So when we talk about “energy” and “environment” and “climate change,” what do we include and exclude in our individual and collective definitions, our “bubbles”? And what do we not know (that we don’t know) that would impact our personal opinions and collective choices?

In SISE 2021: Finding Ecosystem, we will consider the broad ecosystem of energy, how that fits into the response to climate change, and how a broad strategy inclusive of science, culture, and environmental justice can be catalysts for creating change. Selected Fellows will be asked to hone their critical thinking skills throughout as they engage experts and each other through rigorous discussion and debate.

SISE is free for everyone, participating Fellows and virtual attendees. When in-person, SISE also covers the cost of lodging in Chicago and often assists with transportation to and from the program, thanks to the Alvin H. Baum Family Fund's kind contributions.


Two Ways to Participate

Due to the ongoing pandemic, SISE will be primarily digital, with in-person options to be considered closer to July. Regardless, SISE will continue its 2020 practice of streaming the majority of the program free to the public and present special programming for selected Fellows.

Participate as a Fellow

Fellows are selected from around the globe from a highly competitive pool of applicants. Diversity is one of the program's strongest features, with participants representing a broad range of backgrounds and expertise. Fellows receive direct access to speakers and panelists during the program. Even with space restrictions due to the pandemic, Fellows forge strong and lasting bonds with one another through deep conversations, debate, projects — and of course, game nights! They become a part of our extended, international "SISE family" of alumni and professionals.

Watch Virtually on YouTube

Even if you can't join us for the two-weeks, you can still watch most programming virtually through our YouTube channel. Subscribe and enjoy the virtual content, and check back for ongoing programming starting in 2021.


Apply to Become a Fellow

With some exceptions, eligibility is limited to those who have attained senior-level undergraduate status or higher, with a preference for those attending graduate school or in a post-doc position. The program is also open to those who have graduated and are out working in energy and sustainability-related fields. Those with special circumstances will be considered on a case-by-case basis and should contact SISE for how to apply. If you are eligible, you will need to submit:

  • an online application, found on our website;
  • a resume or CV; and
  • a linked in profile (completed).

Once all materials are submitted, applicants will complete a 30-minute video interview with SISE Program Coordinator, Thomas Aláan. In 2021, SISE will take around 80 Fellows. All application materials are due by June 1. All interviews must be completed by June 7. Notifications of admissions will go out on a rolling basis, with a final round of decisions made on June 7.

SISE 2021

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the SISE Program Coordinator, Thomas Aláan (, and visit the SISE website at