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Environmental Leadership: Florida Keys

Marine ecology, impacts of climate change, environmental action.

Summer 2019 Application Opens in December

Brown Environmental Leadership Labs (BELL) combines concepts in environmental studies, ecology, and leadership, with a mission of developing socially responsible leaders. 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

Watch our information session with Program Director Jane Diener.

Program Dates:

One Week Session July 8 – 14, 2018

Eligibility: For students completing grades 9-12, ages 15-18 by June 2018

Application deadline: Monday, April 9, 2018

Fees: $3,166

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Life at the BELL: Florida Keys

Life Outdoors

A large portion of our time will be spent outdoors during the program. 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. The average high temperature in the Florida Keys is 89 degrees Fahrenheit. The average low temperature is 80 degrees Fahrenheit. We will take regular breaks and limit sun exposure, but students 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, and will sleep on separate mattresses in bunk beds. Students should bring a pillow, sleeping bag or extra-long twin bed sheets and blanket. The facility is air-conditioned.

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 intentionally reduce their cell phone use which allows us to more fully engage with our community and beautiful surroundings. We ask students (and families) to limit cell phone use to evening free time. By breaking our ties to these technologies, we are able to be more mindful of our natural environment, build more intentional friendships, and practice self-reflection.

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

BELL: FLorida is academically rigorous. Given the intensity of the program there is some, but minimal, free time.

Please call us and ask to speak to 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

The summer weather in Florida can vary. Please check the weather forecast for Key Largo, FL (Zipcode: 33037) before departure and pack accordingly, including a reusable water bottle to fill and use throughout the program.

Most snorkeling locations are 30-45 min away from MarineLab via boat. Therefore, we 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.

Our 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 security gate closes overnight and on the weekends.

Admission Criteria

Admission Criteria

Summer 2019 Application Opens in December

Prospective students must apply for admission. When evaluating applications, the Admissions Review Committee 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 telling us:
    • what you hope to learn in the program to which you are applying;
    • why this is of interest to you;
    • what contributions you hope to make;
    • 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 3/2/2018: $50
    3/2/2018 to 4/29/2018: $75
    4/30/2018 and after: $100
  3. An Academic Transcript or Grade Report
    Applicants must submit grades for the 2017-2018 academic term and two previous academic years. Acceptable forms include, but are not limited to, progress reports, report cards, transcripts and unofficial transcripts. Documentation must include your full name and an explanation of the scoring system in English. Applicants will upload this material in the student portal after they have submitted their application form. Academic records do NOT need to be submitted by your school or guidance counselor.
  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 Admission Review Committee.

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.

May 2018 Update: Our admissions team carefully reviews each application submitted. Due to the high volume of applications and selectivity of our programs, admissions decisions will be made within fifteen business days of receipt of a complete application.

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.

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