students in the lab

Environmental Leadership: Florida Keys

Marine ecology, impacts of climate change, environmental action.

2019 Application Closed

This program has reached capacity and is no longer accepting applications.

Brown Environmental Leadership Lab (BELL) combines concepts in environmental studies, ecology, and leadership, with a mission of developing socially responsible leaders. At BELL, students develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to create positive change on environmental issues facing their local communities and the planet as a whole.

This summer, Brown University will visit the MarineLab in Key Largo, Florida to explore tropical marine ecology and conservation in a group of like-minded peers.

Over the course of the week, students will explore coral reefs and mangroves, assessing the collective impacts of global climate change, human interaction, and extreme weather events.

Areas of Focus:

  • The impact of climate change on sensitive ecosystems and research
  • Direct and indirect impacts of severe weather
  • Managing multiple user groups in sensitive ecosystems
  • Mangrove observation and ecology
  • Socially-responsible leadership
  • Sustainable restoration of coral reefs

Program Dates:

One Week Session July 7 – 13, 2019

Eligibility: For students completing grades 9-12, ages 15-18 by June 2019

Fees: $3,228

Important Dates & Deadlines

Application Deadline: March 25, 2019
Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis until the Program is fully enrolled or deadline occurs.

Program Deposit Deadline: May 8, 2019

Program Confirmation: On or before April 17, 2019

*NOTE: Do not book your flights or purchase plane tickets until you receive an email from Brown confirming the program

Program Forms & Flight Information Deadline: May 22, 2019

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Life at BELL: Florida Keys

Life Outdoors

A large portion of time will be spent outdoors. Students can expect a moderate level of physical activity every day, and should be ready to participate in outdoor activities in all temperatures and weather conditions (rain, humidity, wind, heat), even if we are experiencing a particularly cold or hot season. Students will take regular breaks and limit sun exposure, but are expected bring sun protection essentials such as water bottles, hats, and cover-ups.


Students will be staying in dormitory-style housing at the MarineLab. Students will be housed with 3-12 peers, separated by gender identity, and will sleep in bunk beds. Staff lives on site and is available to the students 24 hours a day for support and supervision. The MarineLab campus is also a gated facility.

The MarineLab also has indoor classrooms and labs, a recreation center, indoor bathrooms, a cafeteria, and areas to relax or play games during free time. The classrooms, cafeteria, and dormitories are all air conditioned.


Students can expect three simple meals each day, primarily served in the cafeteria at the MarineLab. We will work with MarineLab staff to make accommodations for dietary restrictions and food allergies if we are notified in advance.

Unplugging from Devices

Students at BELL are expected to reduce their cell phone use which allows them to fully engage with the community and beautiful surroundings. We ask students (and families) to limit cell phone use to evening free time. By breaking ties to these technologies, students are able to be more mindful of the natural environment and build more intentional friendships.

Your program fee includes:

  • Tuition for the course
  • All lodging as part of the course
  • Breakfasts, lunches, dinners
  • All transportation, field trips and site visits as described in the program description
  • Transfer from/to airport on day of arrival and departure

Not included in Program Fee:

  • Air travel to/from Ft. Lauderdale, FL
  • Textbooks and classroom supplies
  • Pre/post-program accommodations
  • Additional spending money
Mangrove Cleaning
Mangrove Cleaning

A Typical Day

Each day is different but the basic schedule begins at 8:00 am and ends at 10:00 pm. Activities include lab work, field observations, classroom discussions, leadership workshops, and time for team-building, recreation and reflection.
Sample day schedule:

8:00 - 8:30am Breakfast
9:00 - 11:45am Morning Session (Example: Marine debris lesson and beach clean-up)
12:30 - 1:00pm Lunch
1:00 - 1:30pm Solo Time
2:00 - 5:00pm Afternoon Session (Example: Seagrass ecology lesson and snorkeling)
6:30 - 7:00pm Dinner
7:00 - 9:00pm Evening Session (Example: Leadership styles workshop)
9:00 - 10:00pm Free Time
10:00pm In bunks

Please contact the Program Director if any of these details are of concern so we can make sure you have enough information to make an informed decision about participation.

Staying Safe and Comfortable in the Field

Summer weather in Florida can vary. Please check the weather forecast for Key Largo, FL (Zipcode: 33037) before departure and pack accordingly.

Students will spend at least one hour on a boat almost every day. Students do not need to be skilled swimmers to participate in this program but must be comfortable wearing a life jacket and eager to snorkel.

About the Program Director: Jane B. Diener

Assistant Director, Pre-College & Environmental Programs

Jane received her B.S. in Forest Resources, Interdisciplinary Certificate in University Teaching, and Ph.D. in Forest Resources from the University of Georgia (UGA). Prior to joining the Brown Pre-College team in September 2017, Jane worked as the Sustainability Coordinator for University Housing at UGA, where she ran educational programs to promote environmentally conscious decisions among the 8,000 students living on campus. During the summers of 2014, 2015, and 2016, Jane worked part time for the BELL: Rhode Island. In her current role with Brown Pre-College Programs, she is responsible for planning and overseeing all BELL programs, including Alaska, Florida Keys, and Rhode Island. Jane is passionate about environmental advocacy and fulfilled by this role, which allows her to facilitate a unique experience for high school students each summer.

Admission Criteria
Students on a boat.

How to Apply

This program has reached capacity and is no longer accepting applications.

Admission Criteria

Prospective students must apply for admission. When evaluating applications, the admissions team looks for academic excellence, intellectual curiosity, social maturity, self-motivation and a readiness for participation in an independent academic environment.

A Complete Application Consists of the Following Items:

  1. A Completed Application Form
    Parents and Students: Please be sure to create only one account per applicant.
    Your application provides basic information about you. In addition, students should be prepared to write an essay. Although the essay prompt may differ depending on the program you apply to, in general, you should be prepared to tell us:
    • what you hope to learn in the program to which you are applying and why that program is of interest to you;
    • what areas of study you are interested in;
    • what contributions you hope to make in and outside of the classroom;
    • and any further information you want to convey to us.
  2. A Non-refundable Application Fee (payable securely by credit card within the Student Portal)
    One application fee per application submitted
    • Before 3/1/2019: $50
    • 3/1/2019 to 4/29/2019: $75
    • 4/30/2019 and after: $100
  3. An Academic Transcript or Grade Report

    Academic records must be submitted in the application form by the applicant. They do NOT need to be submitted by your school guidance counselor. Applicants must submit grades from the 2018-2019 academic term and at least two previous academic years. Acceptable attachments include, but are not limited to:

    • Progress reports;
    • Report cards;
    • Narrative assessments; and/or
    • Unofficial transcripts.

    Documentation must include your full name and the academic term(s) represented. Please also be sure an explanation of the grading scale used by your school(s) (i.e., A = Excellent, 5 = Average, etc.,) appears on the documents, or provide one for us, along with an English translation as appropriate.

  4. A Teacher Recommendation
    Within the application, applicants must submit the name and email address of a teacher who can attest to the applicant’s capabilities in a classroom setting. An email will be sent to the recommender to provide feedback to the admissions team.

Please note:

  • In some cases, additional application materials may be requested. Additional materials may include transcripts, essays, or teacher recommendations.
  • Applications will not be reviewed by the Admission Review Committee until they are complete.
  • Program admission does not guarantee enrollment in a specific course.
  • Courses may be cancelled at any time due to unforeseen circumstance.
  • Please wait to make travel arrangements until the program is confirmed.

Notification of Admission Decision

Applicants will be notified by email to log into their Student Portal to view their admission decision once it has been made. Our admissions team carefully reviews each application submitted. In most cases, admission decisions are made within 10 business days of receiving a complete application; however, during high volume times, it may take up to 15 business days.

Confirming Attendance with a Program Deposit

Accepted students must confirm their attendance by submitting a $300 non-refundable program deposit. Students attending more than one program must submit a $300 non-refundable deposit for each program. Students will not be able to enroll in courses until a program deposit is received.


Student and parents are encouraged to review our Policies page to learn about important payment deadlines, refunds, code of conduct, and more.

Important Information for International Students

Brown University Pre-College programs welcome applications from international students. Learn about English language proficiency requirements, Immigration Guidelines, Deadlines for Submitting Documentation, How to Apply for a Visa, and more on our International Students page.

For Pre-Baccalaureate Students: Please note that we must receive your completed application, including your teacher recommendation, by April 15th, in order to ensure sufficient time to review your application, and, if admitted, process I-20 materials. If you currently hold valid F-1 status, or are Canadian, you may be still eligible to participate in the program. Please email for more information.

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