Fellows Programs

Call for Applications & Nominations for Fall 2017 SLS Fellows Program: 

Energy Systems for Sustainable Communities 


Deadline: April 28, 2017, 5pm 

What is an SLS Fellows Program? 

SLS Fellows Programs are interdisciplinary learning communities bringing together diverse stakeholders from on- and off-campus that meet for one semester to examine key themes related to sustainable community-building. They help participants push their research, teaching, and action in new ways while also informing strategic direction for the Center for Serve-Learn-Sustain.   


Fall 2017 Fellows Program: Energy Systems for Sustainable Communities 

The SLS ESSC Fellows Program will explore how communities interact with energy systems and how diverse stakeholders--from academic, business, community, nonprofit, and government sectors--can collaborate to create energy systems that contribute to creating sustainable communities in which people and nature flourish.  An initial definition of an “energy system”  is a system that encompasses elements of  the supply chain to produce energy in a usable form from natural or mineral resources, and to transport, distribute, and utilize that energy.  Thus an electricity system might include the solar panels to produce the energy, the transmission and distribution system at a grid or microgrid level, and the final end use profile. It could also be expanded to include the production supply chain of the solar panels and their recycling at the end of useful life if these activities intersected in a meaningful way with the community. Other energy systems include liquid transportation fuels, district heating, industrial combined heat and power, for example. 

We will use the Southeast as a case study for developing frameworks and approaches that can be applied in other regions. The Southeast has both rapid urban development and rural communities, each with sustainable community assets and challenges. Forestry is an industry that could provide significant energy resources and economic development and has a strong presence in the Southeast and agriculture is one of its major export industries. Utility scale solar power is also being developed in south Georgia and could provide a model for other regions. 

The program will explore questions such as: 

  • How do energy options such as greater use of biomass and utility solar power impact different communities? 

  • How do different energy options improve the resiliency and viability of small communities? 

  • How would changes in grid architecture, such as microgridsimpact communities?  

  • How does climate change alter the energy supply and demand for regions and specifically for the South East? 

  • How do energy systems interact with other key infrastructure systems, particularly food and water systems closely intertwined with energy? 

  • What roles can communities play in the development and deployment of new energy systems? 

  • How do energy policies incentivize or limit community engagement? 

  • How can new developments in energy sources and systems improve opportunities for disadvantaged communities and improve equity, particularly in Georgia, where Atlanta is consistently ranked one of the most inequitable cities in the country? 


One goal of the program is to help participants develop ideas that can be part of the Strategic Energy Institute's new Energy Policy and Innovation Center. Another goal is to seed efforts for proposals to NSF CAREER and the NSF FEWS initiative. 

Benefits & Outcomes 

  • Develop new ideas for research and teaching, through interdisciplinary collaboration with colleagues from colleges and units across campus and engagement with off-campus stakeholders, such as Southface, Georgia Forestry Commission, Partnership for Southern Equity, Georgia Power and Drax Power. 

  • Receive $1,000 in discretionary funds and an invitation issued to SLS Fellows only to apply for additional research or teaching funds of up to $5,000 to continue working on their objective during Spring Semester. 

  • Seed efforts for interdisciplinary proposals to NSF CAREER and the NSF FEWS initiative, related to real-world sustainability and community challenges. 

  • Outcomes will be commensurate with Fellows’ engagement and may include collaborative research proposals, joint courses, new initiatives, and new partnerships. 


  • Attend 5 meet-ups in the fall semester, on and off campus, planned for the following Thursdays from 2:30-4:30 PM. August 31, September 14, October 5, November 2, November 16. Fellows should be available starting at 2:00 to allow for travel time for meet-ups that will take place off campus with partner organizations. 

  • Participate in 1 day-long community field excursion outside Atlanta (date TBD collaboratively). 

  • Work in small groups to complete a research, teaching, or action objective by the end of the semester (TBD by each group). 

  • Participate in SLS assessment by completing one mid- and one end-of-semester survey about your experience in the program. 

  • Submit a blog post to SLS at the end of the semester about your experience and what you have learned about energy systems and sustainable communities, to be considered for posting on the SLS Blog. 


Participants will receive $1,000 in discretionary funds in Fall 2017 to be used as they see fit within funding parameters, by the end of the academic year (June 30, 2017) as well as an invitation issued to SLS Fellows only to apply for additional research or teaching funds of up to $5,000 to continue working on their objective during Spring Semester. 

Who Should Apply for this Fellows Program? 

  • All Georgia Tech faculty, post-doctoral fellows, staff, and doctoral students are welcome to apply. 

  • Applicants should have an individual research, teaching, or action objective that will, at some point, relate to student learning. The objective should be consistent with the program theme and with SLS’ goals articulated below. Sample objectives include: establish connections with community, municipal, on-campus, or industry stakeholders working on a particular issue; develop a course assignment or module on a particular topic or incorporating a community engagement component; or add a sustainable community component to a research agenda. 

  • Applicants should be excited about exploring this theme, within the broader context of sustainable communities, with an interdisciplinary group on a sustained basis. While the fellowship will only last formally through Fall Semester 2017, our goal is to establish long-term relationships with participants, and we will have a variety of opportunities for continued engagement, beginning with the special opportunity described above to apply for additional funds to continue working on their project during Spring Semester. 

  • To push thinking in new directions, we are seeking both fellows who have been immersed in this topic as well as those who are interested in connecting to it from different fields and perspectives.  

  • Participants in previous SLS Fellows Programs whose interests relate to Energy Systems are encouraged to apply again to continue expanding their work in new directions. 

How to Apply 

  • Submit your application via the online portal by the deadline: April 28, 5pm 

  • The application includes:  

  • A brief description (1-2 paragraphs) of your individual research, teaching, or action objective that is consistent with the Energy Systems for Sustainable Communities theme and, more broadly, with SLS' vision and mission. If it’s not immediately obvious, make sure to explain how this objective may eventually relate to student learning. 

  • A brief statement articulating your interest more generally in Serve-Learn-Sustain and this Fellows program, including what you believe you can contribute to the Fellows Program and what you hope to achieve by participating in it, beyond making progress on the objective you describe above. 

  • Postdoctoral fellows and graduate student applicants should also include a CV and a letter of recommendation from their faculty advisor.  

  • Nominations will also be solicited from School Chairs. 


Contact SLS ESSC Fellows Program Faculty Co-Directors: