Pre-College Programs

Brown Environmental Leadership Lab (BELL)

Create Positive Change on Environmental Issues

Student Snapshot: Three students share their BELL: Alaska experiences

5 questions with quahogger and BELL: RI instructor Jody King

The Brown Environmental Leadership Labs (BELL) provide high school students with unique opportunities to study the interactions between natural and social systems with Brown-affiliated educators and place-based experts. In addition to environmental studies and science curriculum, these programs include leadership curriculum with the overarching mission of developing socially responsible leaders. In each BELL program, we strive to help 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.

BELL: Alaska students looking at the Wrangell Mountains, in Wrangell St. Elias National Park

Who we are

BELL programs are designed for highly motivated and intellectually curious students who are eager to engage with today’s environmental issues. We look for young people who are excited to learn and want to make a positive difference in the world. Our students come from across the U.S. and around the globe. For some students, environmental science is a whole new field. For others, these programs expand on their prior learning and help them apply familiar concepts in new ways.

What we learn

Each BELL course focuses on a subset of environmental issues and the curriculum evolves each year to cover the most pressing topics. Academic content is drawn from a variety of disciplines including: anthropology, biology, chemistry, geology, economics, policy, and leadership theory. BELL programs use activities, workshops, discussions, debates, experiments and field trips to actively engage students in the learning process.  We present students with complex issues and challenge them to consider multiple perspectives and motives. Students also meet local activists who are making a difference by taking action in their communities.

BELL: RI group learning along
the coastline at Haffenreffer Estate.

How we live

In addition to providing rigorous academic content, we see the BELL programs as 24-hour learning laboratories for sustainable living. We make a conscious effort to live in ways that reflect what we teach. We consider our inputs and outputs, such as energy consumption, water use, waste generation/disposal, and food consumption.

Students spend much of their time outdoors where they explore, reflect and play. These experiences afford students a unique opportunity to develop a personal connection to the environment they are studying. BELL students form their own support network of young people who are motivated and working to create positive change. In a world constantly connected to instant information and social media, BELL students are encouraged to minimize cell phone use during the day as a way to intentionally unplug and reconnect with the people and environment around us. The amount of cell phone use permitted varies depending on the needs and location of individual programs.