students in the lab

Environmental Leadership: Rhode Island

Environmental action, ecological resilience, socially responsible leadership.

Application opens December 3 for Summer 2020

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: Rhode Island will live and study at the pristine Whispering Pines Conference Center at the W. Alton Jones Environmental Education Center in West Greenwich, Rhode Island.

Students will work to better understand the causes and impacts of climate change and identify examples of environmental resilience. Additionally, students will be encouraged and empowered to develop solutions to environmental issues occurring in their own communities.

Areas of Focus:

  • Resources and skills for developing perspective on environmental advocacy
  • Ideas for engaging in environmental action
  • Information on careers in environmental science or policy
  • Campus visit to Brown University including student panels and academic presentations
  • Impact of humans on ecosystems in the context of global climate change
  • Outdoor labs, including:
    • Herpetology, including amphibian and reptile identification
    • Water and air quality assessment
    • Wetland, forest, and stream ecology
  • Environmental dispute resolution and policy
  • Environmental justice literacy and context

Create an Action Plan and Take Your Learning Home

Socially responsible leadership is a lifelong pursuit that requires ongoing learning and reflection. During your time at BELL: RI, 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 new leadership knowledge to this issue upon return to their home communities.

Students are encouraged to think about potential Action Plan topics before they come to BELL, but most students will 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: Action Plan library.

2019 Dates & Fees:

Two Week Sessions
Space Available: July 28 - August 8, 2019

FULL: June 30 - July 11, 2019
FULL: July 14 - 25, 2019

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

Fees: $4,696

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information Accepted Students

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Lake Eisenhower

Life at BELL: Rhode Island

Life Outdoors

A large portion of time will be spent outdoors. The goal is to explore beautiful surroundings through both formal study and spending time observing and listening. Students can expect a moderate level of physical activity every day, and should be ready to participate in outdoor activities outdoors in all temperatures and weather conditions.


Students will be staying in hotel-style housing at the Whispering Pines Conference Center. Students will be housed with 1 – 2 of their peers, separated by gender identity, and will sleep in separate beds. All indoor facilities at Whispering Pines are air conditioned. Staff lives on site and is available to the students 24 hours a day for support and supervision.


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

Unplugging from Devices

Students turn in their electronic devices on the first day of BELL. Although some students may initially have concerns about this practice, they soon begin to enjoy this unique opportunity to disconnect from electronic devices. Reducing distractions allows students to more fully engage with the community and beautiful surroundings. We ask students (and families) to limit cell phone use to times when students have their phones, which will be specified in advance. 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
  • Transportation to Whispering Pines from Brown University on arrival day
  • If needed, transportation to TF Green Airport or Brown University campus on the final day of the program

Not included in Program Fee:

  • Pre/post-program accommodations
  • Travel to/from Providence, RI
  • Additional spending money
Lodging, all named for the trees in surrounding forest


5 Exciting Things About BELL: RI »


A Typical Day

While each day at BELL: Rhode Island is different, the schedule typically begins at 8:30am and ends at 10:00pm. Throughout the program there will be outdoor activities and labs, group discussions, and debates. Students participate in community time to discuss current events, sharpen leadership skills, and simply have fun together in a beautiful place.

Sample day schedule:

8:00 - 9:00am Breakfast. Students help with set-up and clean-up
9:00 - 9:30am Community tasks (everyone pitches in)
9:30 - 11:30am Class time
11:30 - 12:00am Free time
12:00 - 1:00pm Lunch. Students help with set-up and clean-up
1:00 - 2:00pm Solo Time (recharge, reflect, and be by yourself)
2:00 - 5:00pm Class time
5:00 - 6:00pm Free time
6:00 - 7:00pm Dinner. Students help with set-up and clean-up
7:00 - 7:45pm Recreation time
7:45 - 9:00pm Evening Program
9:00 - 10:00pm Free Time
10:00pm In rooms

Please contact the Program Director if any of these things are of concern so we can make sure you have enough information about the particular program, as well as options for case-by-case accommodations, to make an effective decision about your participation.

Staying Safe and Comfortable in the Field

The summer weather in Rhode Island can vary. Please check the weather forecast for West Greenwich, RI (Zip code: 02817) before departure and pack accordingly.

Students will be active for at least a part of each day. Some days will include activities such as hiking, wading in wetlands or streams, or standing outside for lessons.

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.


An Interview with BELL Program Director Jane B. Diener »

Admission Criteria
Beautiful hike located just steps away from our lodging

How to Apply

Application opens December 3 for Summer 2020

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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