Applications are closed for January 2023-January 2024 fellows.

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Public Service Fellows

The Public Service Fellows program is a three-semester professional development sequence for graduate students and postdocs in STEM. The program builds foundational knowledge, skills, and practical experience in public service and community engagement. Graduate and postdoc students from any STEM discipline will be able to incorporate issues of public concern into their career goals. This fellows program culminates in a mentored practicum with a campus, community, or governmental organization.

Applications for 2023 fellows are now closed.


Participants in the program will:

    • Acquire foundational knowledge in public service and community engagement in STEM
    • Gain significant practical experience in a specific public service pathway: community-engaged teaching, direct service/outreach, or public policy
    • Connect with peers who are invested in the social impact of their work in STEM
    • Explore career options and build their CVs
    • Enroll in a 1-credit seminar in each semester (3 courses total)

In the third semester, participants complete a practicum in a public service pathway of specialization:

    • community-engaged teaching,
    • direct service, or
    • policy & governance.

An application is required, and a range of previous experience with the pathway(s) you are interested in will be considered. You may apply to more than one pathway. However, accepted fellows will be admitted into one pathway.

This course sequence counts towards the Ph.D. minor in Community-Engaged Scholarship, if desired. Applicants considering the community-engaged teaching pathway are strongly encouraged to have some teaching experience.

The Public Service Fellows Program consists of three semesters: (1) learn the fundamentals of public service and civic engagement in STEM, (2) engage in relationships & prepare materials, and (3) implement your learning in real-world community partnerships, mentored by WISCIENCE program directors.

1. Spring: Learn the fundamentals of public service and civic engagement in STEM

Fellows meet weekly for two hours, completing a one-credit seminar on the fundamentals of community engagement in the STEM disciplines. The cohort will work together to explore the core pathways of public service and civic engagement (direct service, community-engaged teaching, public policy, social entrepreneurship, activism, and philanthropy), learn the basics of community partnerships, and reflect on personal experiences with community engagement.

Average time commitment: 2–5 hours/week

2. Summer: Engage in relationships & prepare materials

Fellows meet on a semi-regular basis to develop a workplan for the semester, initiate community partnerships, and create materials for use in their practicum.  Fellows will focus intensively on acquiring pathway-specific knowledge and skills. There will also be opportunities to practice transferable skills, problem-solve, and support your cohort members.

Average time commitment: 2–5 hours/week. This time commitment is variable, and there will be a mix of meeting types.  Some weeks we will continue to learn and work collaboratively as a cohort, and some weeks will be devoted exclusively to work within your pathway of specialization.  Some meetings may be held with practicum partners in the community.

3. Fall: Implement in real-world settings

Fellows engage in a practicum in their public service pathway of specialization, working directly with a community partner.  Participants will see how theories and concepts in their pathway play out in real settings, by implementing, refining, and evaluating the materials they have prepared for their practicum.  A particular emphasis will be placed on working with community partners and their constituents in a way that is ethical, demonstrates a high level of commitment, and is inclusive of all stakeholders.  Fellows will acquire the knowledge and skills to become leaders who advocate for civic and community engagement in the STEM disciplines.

Average time commitment: 6–10 hours/week.  Fixed time commitments are a 2-hour full cohort meeting every 2 weeks, and a 1-hour pathway meeting on alternate weeks.  Additional time spent working on the practicum project will be more variable, but should be no less than 6 hours/week.  Discuss your participation in this program and its time commitments with your graduate advisor (or equivalent) before applying.

The Pathways of Public Service and Civic Engagement is a framework developed by the Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford University and used by the Public Service Fellows program as a way of understanding the spectrum of possible approaches for connecting the work of scientists & engineers to issues of public concern.

Graduate students applying to the program will indicate their interest in specializing in one or more of the three pathways offered through the program.  These pathways are:

Community-engaged teaching

    • Community-engaged teaching describes courses that connect learning in the classroom to issues of public concern and frequently include learning in community spaces. 2–4 students will serve as an instructor and gain first-hand experience designing and teaching a first-year service course.

Direct service/outreach

    • Direct service addresses the immediate needs of individuals and communities and frequently involves working directly with community members.  The most common example of direct service in STEM are frequently referred to as outreach.

Policy & governance

    • Policy and governance incorporates evidence-based approaches related to policymaking, interacting with policymakers, governance and legislative processes, and nonprofit or advocacy work.

Some Fellows have, through informal conversations with the leadership of the Public Service Fellows (PSF) program, reported about work positions they have found, and how their PSF experience has impacted their work. Quotes are from personal conversations, social media updates, and email updates and are used with permission or cite a public record. All cohorts and all pathways are represented.

“Feeling like I can actually do some real service now as a faculty member. Covid teach-in at {college}!” – Cohort 1, Community-Engaged Teaching


“For this coming semester, I have obtained internal funding {from the college}. … The ultimate goal is to take a similar project off campus, where students would partner with local food pantries to develop nutrition education materials, in addition to gaining an understanding of food accessibility in their community.”  – Cohort 1, Community-Engaged Teaching


I adapted the storytelling tool from my practicum to use for our elder justice coalition storytelling collection. (And that practicum got me the job interview.) In my {current job}, I help with coalition building, so looking for who’s not at the table {similar to activities from PSF}”.  – Cohort 1, Policy


Practicum work by Fellow was incorporated into a State of Wisconsin initiative: “Gov. Evers Announces Wisconsin Environmental Equity Tool to Assess Environmental and Public Health Needs Statewide.”– Cohort 2, Policy (State Press Release; October 7, 2021)


“Both the content I learned in PSF as well as the experiences during my practicum have helped me in my current position as Education Outreach Lead at {industry}.  …It also pushed me to think about best practices for science communication with various audiences. All of these are things that I use every day in my current position.” – Cohort 3, Direct Service


Program Eligibility Requirements

  • Interest in and enthusiasm for connecting STEM with the public, in one or more of these four areas: Community-Engaged Teaching, Direct Service, Policy and Governance, and/or Social Entrepreneurship.
  • Completing the program in its entirety, from January 2023 – January 2024, including attending the Public Service in STEM course in Spring 2023, Relationships and Materials Development in STEM Public Service Summer 2023, and Mentored Practicum in STEM Public Service Fall 2023.
  • Working with a community partner or organization to co-develop a practicum project related to the intersection of science and issues of public concern.
  • Approval from your PI/advisor to participate in this program. (You may be asked to provide this approval in writing in the future.)
  • Your major field of study is in a STEM field. This is broadly defined, please contact Dr. Courtier if you have any questions.

Application Components

  • An online application form with:
    • Your contact and program information
    • A research blurb: You are riding on the bus and the person next to you asks you to explain your research. You have until the next stop which translates to a MAXIMUM OF 150 WORDS. How do you explain what you do?
    • Summary of your career goals (Target 200 words)
  • A resume or CV that includes:
    • Upload your resume or curriculum vitae as a PDF.
    • Please include (1) your research, teaching, and community engagement experience, and
    • (2) any professional development (courses, trainings, workshops, etc.) that pertain to the pathway(s) for which you are applying.
    • Please do not include presentations or publications unless they are connected to community engagement.
  • A personal statement (1-2 pages) that addresses these topics:
    • Information on your motivation to participate in Public Service Fellows program for the specific track(s) you selected above.
    • A description of your experience engaging with the community, whether it be as a scientist, engineer, or in another capacity.
    • If you are interested in the community-engaged teaching track, please describe your experience as a teacher, including your roles and responsibilities.
    • A statement of your existing obligations (research, teaching, etc.) and known conflicts from January 2023-January 2024. Include any time periods that you would be unavailable for program responsibilities and recurring weekly commitments when you are unavailable for meetings.

Applications for 2023 fellows are now closed.

Summary Program Flyer


Anna Courtier

Credentials: Ph.D.

Position title: Director of Community-Based Learning


Phone: (608) 265-5526

Room 104F
445 Henry Mall
Madison, WI 53706