COVID-19 Information: Brown University continues to closely monitor and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic locally, nationally and around the world. After careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision to cancel all residential on-campus and off-campus Pre-College Programs for Summer 2020. We will continue to offer online courses. Please visit the Pre-College COVID-19 web page for additional information.

Environmental Leadership: Florida Keys

Marine ecology, impacts of climate change, environmental action

This program is cancelled. Please go to the Summer@Brown Online program page for information about that program and related courses.

The 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, students at BELL: Florida 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
  • Mangrove observation and ecology
  • Socially-responsible leadership
  • Sustainable restoration of coral reefs

Create an Action Plan and Take the Learning Home

Socially responsible leadership is a lifelong pursuit that requires ongoing learning and reflection. During BELL: Florida Keys, students will identify a pressing issue that they are passionate about. With support from faculty and peers, students will create an Action Plan to apply their new leadership knowledge to this issue upon return to their home community.

We encourage students to think about potential Action Plan topics before they come to BELL, but most develop their ideas during the program. For example, past students have established community gardens, written a grant to install solar panels, and coordinated an e-waste collection. More Action Plan final reports can be found here: BELL Action Plan library.

Learn for the sake of learning

The BELL Programs provide challenging academic opportunities without the pressure of formal grades, allowing students to concentrate on learning, and the process of scholarship and discovery. In lieu of a final grade, students will receive a Course Performance Report and Certificate of Completion after successful completion of the program.

Life at BELL: Florida Keys

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.

2020 Program Dates

July 10 - July 17
July 19 - July 26
July 28 - August 4


For students completing grades 9-12, ages 15-18 by June 2020

Information Sessions

magnifying glass Courses

Seahorse in Jar


Students will be staying in dormitory-style housing at the MarineLab. Students will be housed with peers, separated by gender identity, and will sleep in bunk beds. Staff live on site and are available to the students 24 hours a day for support and supervision. The MarineLab campus is 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. As food is ordered in advance of the program, students should alert program staff oh any dietary restrictions or allergies by April 15. 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. By breaking ties to these technologies, students are able to be more mindful of the natural environment and build more intentional friendships.

Program Fee includes:

  • Tuition for the course
  • Textbooks and classroom supplies
  • 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
  • Pre/post-program accommodations
  • Additional spending money
sea urchin
indoor lab

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

Staying Safe and Comfortable in the Field

Summer weather in Florida can vary. Please check the weather forecast for Key Largo, FL 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, Environmental and Location-Based 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.

picture of forest in Alaska
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