Who is ILI for?

ILI is for accomplished individuals who have completed their traditional careers (typically 20+ years) and wish to discover, discern, and design who they want to be in the next phase of their lives to facilitate emergence as a renewed and richly prepared force for good in their communities and beyond. We define "accomplished" broadly to incorporate those who have excelled in business, non-profit organizations, and throughout life. Our focus is centered on discerned personal transformation which provides direction for a person’s future. We seek those with an “inside-out” mindset and the willingness to be open and vulnerable to deepening and clarifying their sense of purpose. We ask that fellows be open and receptive to transformation and have a willingness to embrace all elements of the program, both formal and informal. We also want fellows to balance the collective and individual experience and form bonds with their cohort, faculty, staff, and students.

I am ready for something new to focus on in my life, but I don’t know what.

Discerning the right next step is critically important, and we will provide a pedagogy, process, and tools to help ensure you have an opportunity to develop an awareness and understanding of both yourself and the opportunities that you can pursue with the benefit of the deep resources Notre Dame can provide. This will commence with information provided through the application process and be further developed in sessions throughout the summer before the program begins in the fall.

Is there a way to get a better general understanding of the program and the unique elements it affords fellows?

Yes! ILI hosts exploration sessions during the academic year. Exploration sessions allow those who are serious about applying for ILI the opportunity to connect with the ILI leadership, faculty and former fellows to ask questions and dive deeper into what this experience is like for an ILI fellow. You can find out more on our website here.

Why is the University of Notre Dame the right place to do this?

Every university has a “brand” that connotes different things to each individual depending on their experience, interaction, and relationship with the institution. The University of Notre Dame has a 175-year history of being one of America’s leading undergraduate teaching institutions and has evolved into a leading graduate institution at the forefront in research and scholarship. The aerodynamics of glider flight, the transmission of wireless messages, and the formulae for synthetic rubber were pioneered at the University. Today researchers are achieving breakthroughs in astrophysics, radiation chemistry, environmental sciences, tropical disease transmission, peace studies, cancer, robotics, and nanoelectronics, just to name a few exciting fields.

This evolution has resulted in centers and institutes found only at the top research universities. A list of these can be found at: https://www.nd.edu/academics/centers-institutes/.

Is this program designed solely for those of the Catholic faith or who have graduated from Notre Dame?

While Notre Dame is a distinctly Catholic, we embrace those from all faith backgrounds and hope to continue to attract fellows from a diverse array of educational institutions and backgrounds.

I am concerned that I do not fit the profile of a typical fellow as my accomplishment may not be “traditional,” could the ILI still be right for me?

It is important to emphasize that we define accomplished broadly to incorporate those that have risen to positions of leadership in business, non-profit, and other organizations large and small and also those who have distinguished themselves in education, medicine, law, religious life, or similar areas. The program desires to have a cohort of individuals from a diverse spectrum of backgrounds and, accordingly, is proud to have the ability to endeavor to offer a fee reduction, potentially including stipends for expenses, for prospective fellows who are appropriate for this program and who would otherwise not be able to attend.

What will a typical week look like as an ILI fellow?

The beauty of the ILI is that you will have the opportunity to design your weeks based on your interests. Some may prefer days that are more fully scheduled, others days that leave more flexibility. Our experience has shown that many start the year more scheduled and then realize that there is a clear benefit to flexibility as a university environment rewards the opportunistic. This is due to our rich trove of accessible faculty, interesting students, enlightening lectures, fabulous wellness facilities, athletic, and cultural events and other amenities a University community provides.

We are confident that our fellows will have no shortage of items to fill their days across the following categories:

  • Attending Core and Selected Classes: Fellows will take the core course, The Human Journey, and have access to a full spectrum of classes across all the colleges, institutes, and centers. We recommend that a fellow take two to four classes in areas they wish to pursue with help provided by faculty advisors that have a broad understanding of the academy.
  • Core Lectures: There are lectures recommended each week for the cohort that will provide exposure to top faculty in subjects that will be relevant to the arc of the year in addition to interesting, relevant top outside speakers on topics of interest to our cohort.
  • Studying: Our fellows spend meaningful time reading and studying in advance of the courses they are auditing to gain the most from these classes. This could range from a few hours per week to much more at your discretion.
  • Wellness Activities: Both on- and off-campus fellows will have access to scheduled wellness classes, all student and faculty gyms and workout facilities, and activities like reserving a sheet of ice to learn that Olympic sport that is a mystery to most of us: curling.
  • Music, Arts, and Theatre: You will have access to all the cultural activities on campus, as well as the ability to hone or develop new passions in these areas through classes, workshops, and access to private practice rooms to play piano, cello, or other instruments.
  • Mentoring: There are many opportunities for intergenerational engagement with students and faculty.
  • Faculty Engagement: Our fellows have found common, productive, and valuable relationships with faculty that are mutually rewarding. These range from simple shared meals to more fulsome engagement with the projects, institutes, and centers that individual faculty are involved in.
  • Cohort Interaction: We have created spaces and encourage our ILI Fellows to take advantage of and create opportunities to get to know one another, build community, and see each other as resources as they share the journey, both during the ILI year and beyond.
  • Community Engagement: The Center for Social Concerns and other campus resources have generously offered us the ability to leverage their relationships with local, national, and global organizations to do anything from share your expertise to partnering with student groups to volunteering.
  • Project Development: Fellows may find they have a specific project they wish to develop during their year and accordingly will spend time on and off campus bringing a new mission or venture to fruition. This will be accomplished by leveraging relationships they develop with University faculty, staff, and leadership, as well as the cohort they are joining.
  • Spiritual Enrichment: You are invited to take full advantage of the many means to develop your spiritual dimension, regardless of faith tradition. This could involve a spiritual mentor, self-discovery, theology courses, liturgies, service work...
  • Global Engagement: Notre Dame International (NDI) leadership will provide access to our gateways and centers across the globe to aid in the pursuit of your newfound interests and missions, whether for a week, month, or semester.
  • Athletics: Notre Dame has 26 Division I sports teams—with most of the teams ranked—affording fellows numerous opportunities to enjoy high quality sports both indoors and outdoors.
  • Free Time: A luxury many of us do not afford ourselves which can lead to true and generative creative outcomes.

The above is but a subset of what our fellows explore during a "typical" week. To aid in this process our ILI team will provide you an intranet site with full access to all campus and community activities and guidance to ensure you have the richest experience possible. With some direction, and most importantly a curious mind and the initiative that made you the accomplished person you are, we find ourselves doing more counseling on how to manage all the options available as opposed to helping you occupy your precious time.

What events happen during a typical week at Notre Dame?

There are many events that happen each week throughout the year that will be accessible and intriguing to our fellows and spouses / life partners. Information on these will be available through the University and our intranet site. A sample of the events currently happening can be found at: http://events.nd.edu/.

Can you explain more about the core course that is the hallmark of ILI?

The Human Journey core course consists of three closely coordinated elements: Great Books, Heart's Desire and Designing an Inspired Life.  These elements afford our fellows the opportunity to re-immerse themselves in academic life through the exploration of themes from classic and contemporary literature, engage in timeless and relevant themes and topics, and develop an understanding of principles and applications of design thinking as they apply them to their own lives. Great Books and Heart’s Desire will be primarily during the first semester while Designing an Inspired Life will be focused during the second semester

It’s been a long time since I have taken a course or sat in a classroom. Have fellows found this awkward or uncomfortable?

The beauty of ILI is that all of the fellows are in the same position with similar concerns. Rest assured, our experience is that faculty and students welcome having you as an integral part of the classroom. As you settle in, you’ll find that it will become easy and valuable to engage in the courses you choose to take. You will have the opportunity to participate in classroom discussions and projects and the students will learn as much from you as you will from them.

Your curriculum will be tailored to you and your interests under the guidance of your faculty advisor who you will meet with regularly throughout the academic year.  Through this process and guidance from the ILI leadership you will find the right number and type of classes to suit your objectives and interest.

I am a bit concerned about the length of the program, a year seems like a big commitment.  Why is it designed this way?

First, keep in mind that the program is an academic year. You will arrive on campus mid-August at the same time that undergraduate and graduate students are arriving. You will have all of the same breaks such as fall, holiday, and spring breaks that are part of a typical academic year. In lieu of finals, fellows will be traveling on a capstone immersion trip in mid-May to commence the end of your time at ILI.

To fully embrace and engage in all that the ILI and the University has to offer a full academic year is necessary.  We know it is a significant commitment, however, given our objective of helping you decide who you want to be for what will be, hopefully, many more generative years it is a worthwhile investment (consider the four plus years many people invest in college to facilitate that earlier stage in life).  In fact, our fellows will tell you that the year speeds by remarkably quickly, and with all the ILI has to offer it is, if anything, too short.  

What are the fees?

The annual fee is commensurate with a year of undergraduate tuition and fees. The ILI program desires to have a cohort of individuals from a diverse spectrum of backgrounds and, accordingly, is proud to have the limited capacity to provide a fee reduction for prospective fellows who have had careers in non-profit, service, and related fields. If you would like more details about the fees for the upoming cohort, we are happy to discuss this further by reaching out to us at ili.admissions@nd.edu.

Is the ILI a degree program?

The ILI, like similar programs at other Universities, is not a degree program as that would meaningfully limit the flexibility of our program to allow our fellows to discover, discern, and design who they want to be. This limitation would result from an imposition of multiple requirements and an affiliation with a specific College thereby limiting the breadth of classes a fellow could take. Structured as it is, our fellows are able to take classes across the University and at multiple levels to best suit their desired path, benefiting also from their own faculty advisor.

What are the housing options? I am not familiar with campus and/or it has changed a great deal since I was last at ND.

The cost of housing and living expenses is not included in the program fees. The housing option that is right for you all depends on your preference. Many of the fellows choose to live next to campus in apartments or townhouses so that they can walk to classes and events. There are other fellows who have a vehicle and choose to live a bit farther from ND and drive to campus. ILI will provide you with a list of housing options and you can take it from there. We do suggest that you begin exploring the list of options once/if you are accepted into the program. The sooner you nail down your home away from home, the more peace of mind you’ll have arriving to campus in the fall. For more information, visit here.

My spouse/partner is coming along for the academic year but won’t be participating as a fellow. What options are there for them to integrate in the community?

Spouses/partners are welcome and encouraged to join some of the core elements and most of the social elements of the year including welcome weekend, the ILI tailgate, and the spring capstone immersion trip. In addition to this, they can audit up to two classes per semester and our team can help with class selection and registration. ILI spouses/partners receive a significant discount per course. They are also encouraged to participate in the endless opportunities, engagements, music, theater and sporting events that occur on campus and off. Over the years, we have found that spouses/partners gather together and become a close-knit group of their own.

My spouse/partner will not be joining me for the academic year, should I have concerns about that?

You are not alone. We have had other fellows who have had spouses/partners that have been unable to join them for the academic year and it has worked out just fine regardless of the level of engagement. In fact, the spouses who were not resident for the year found they were always welcome at the events they were able to participate in.  We are happy to discuss this further as appropriate.