Commonly Asked Questions About Course Registration

You’ve found the Brown Pre-College course that’s perfect for you. Now what? Before you start packing your bags, there are a few steps to ensure you have a seat – either literally or virtually – in the course of your choice. To streamline the process for you, we’ve tapped the expertise of our admission and enrollment team to answer the most common questions asked by students and parents when registering for Brown Pre-College courses.

Questions about the application? Read our post on the “7 Dos and Dont’s for Completing the Pre-College Application.” 

Once I have applied for a Pre-College Program, what do I do next?

Once you have completed your application, check the student portal regularly to see if a decision has been made on your application. If you are admitted, the next step is to pay your deposit. Once your deposit is received, you’ll be sent instructions for registering for your course and completing your enrollment. It’s highly recommended that you pay your deposit and register for courses at the same time. Classes fill up quickly and there is no guarantee that spots will be available when you register.

Which Pre-College programs require course registration?

The short answer is all of them. Imagine that each Pre-College Program is a college with its own course catalog. Most Pre-College Programs have multiple courses to choose from, which can all be found in the course catalog and must be registered for to complete program enrollment.

The On-Location Programs (Atlanta, Rome, Costa Rica and Segovia) and the Brown Environmental Leadership Lab (Florida Keys, Rhode Island and Alaska) each have one course in the Course Catalog that students must register for in order to complete their enrollment in the program.

Note: At the time this blog was written (3/21/18), the programs in Atlanta, Alaska, and Florida had reached capacity and are no longer accepting applications.

Does my admittance into a program mean that I am registered for a course?

No, it doesn’t. All students admitted into a Pre-College Program must register for a course to complete program enrollment. Registration can be done through the Course Catalog. Before you register, be sure to double-check which program you have applied for and been admitted to.

If I write about a course in my application essay, am I automatically registered for that course upon being admitted?

No. Many students express interest in a specific course in their application essay, but that does not mean that they will be registered for that course automatically when they are admitted. Course registration must be completed through the course catalog after the student has been admitted. For more information on registering for a course, see the responses above.

How do I register for a course?

Visit the Course Catalog to register for your courses. The Catalog allows you to filter courses by program, area of study, date, and length of course to make it easy to find the course that is the perfect fit for you.

What happens if the course I want is full?

If a course you’re interested in is full, you can add your name to the waitlist in case a spot opens up. However, it’s impossible to predict waitlist movement and waitlist numbers are not disclosed as the number can be misleading. In some instances, all students on a waitlist may end up enrolled in the course; in other instances, the waitlist may never see any movement. Students are encouraged to enroll in an open course, in addition to remaining on a waitlist, as it is impossible to accurately predict waitlist movement.

What if I can’t decide on a course or find one that I like?

Fear not. The Pre-College Program Advising Team is here to help. They’ll talk to you about your interests and what you would like to get out of your program, and make course suggestions that they think will be a good fit for you. To connect with a member of the Advising Team, email

Summer@Brown alums create award-winning film

A film created by three Summer@Brown students last summer was awarded “Best Fiction Film” at a recent New Jersey film festival. 


“Solitaire” was the brainchild of Colmcille Donston, Marcos Larancuent and Joo Yup Ham, who made the film as their final project in Edrex Fontanilla’s “Digital Video Production” course. The three submitted the film to the Ramapo College of New Jersey’s High School Film Festival and learned in December that it had earned the top spot in its category. The film has also been nominated to be entered into the Garden State Film Festival.

“Solitaire” tells the story of a boy left alone on a college campus after an unspecified incident, leaving viewers to wonder if the incident is real or all in the boy’s head. The film came together one evening over dinner when the three students realized that none of them were happy with the final projects they were working on independently. They decided to work together and completed the film in just two days, with Colm directing and acting in the film, Marcos working as cameraman and Joo Yup taking the lead on editing. All three credit the instruction of Fontanilla in teaching them valuable techniques, including using different camera angles and sound editing, needed to complete their project and, ultimately, win the film festival award.

“The feeling of winning this award was completely astonishing and has been an amazing experience for all of us,” Colmcille said. “Although we all live in different places we continue to keep in touch and update each other on the progress of our film and other projects we are part of. We couldn’t have made the film without our amazing teacher Edrex, and the opportunity Summer@Brown gave us.”

Pictured left to right: Colmcille, Marcos, and Joo Yup

Pre-College alumni share wisdom for summer on campus

Summer@Brown will soon be here. To help get new students ready for the adventure that lies ahead, we asked a few former students for some helpful (and fun!) advice to pass along. Here are their responses.

What’s one piece of advice you have for new Summer@Brown students?

“Be prepared to tackle challenging questions. Regardless of the class you take, whether it falls into the humanities category, applied sciences category, etc., the professors will ask thought-provoking questions and expect you to think creatively and critically about different ideas. Come prepared to think beyond the obvious.”
-Claire, Texas

“Don’t hide in your room all the time, go outside and enjoy your summer with your new friends!”
-Helena, Switzerland

“Do not stress! Don’t worry about your roommate, your workload, or finding your way around. Everything will be fine, I promise.”
-Lucy, Pennsylvania

“Be open to anything. It is probably your first time in a college life experience, and there are a lot of new things you could experience. Try to meet and talk to as many people as you can, get to know the teachers, and try to push yourself during the time you are at Brown because it is the perfect place to do so with all the resources and amazing people who are there.”
-Jess, New Jersey

“Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and participate in any activity that is offered as well make as many friends as you can and keep in touch with them.”
-Alex, Texas

“Do not be afraid to introduce yourself to your peers and enjoy the week(s) because it will go by fast!”
-Grace, Massachusetts

Beyond your class(es), what was the best part of your Summer@Brown experience?

“The best part of Summer@Brown is meeting people from all over the world! Don’t just stay in your dorm room or only talk to people in your class. Walk around campus or go to on-campus events and introduce yourself to whoever you see. You might make a lifelong friend or learn a lot about someone who has a very different background than you.”
-Lucy, Pennsylvania

“Fourth of July. It was a night to remember. Literally, because some of my friends were leaving the next day and that night, we got to explore Providence more than ever and meet the wonderful residents.”
-Rasheed, New Jersey

“Meeting new people.”
-Helena, Switzerland

“I loved getting to meet people from Spain and France on my dorm floor, because I have never been outside of the U.S., so that was amazing. Also, meeting the students in my classes who also had the same love for medicine that I have.”
-Jess, New Jersey

“My favorite part was the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and make so many new friends.”
-Alex, Texas

“Making new friends from across the world and getting a glimpse of what the college life is like.”
-Grace, Massachusetts

“The sense of community. Whenever I walked around the campus, either by myself or with friends, people I didn’t know would stop to talk to me. Additionally, in my dorm, mini whiteboards hung on the doors in my hall. All of the students would use the whiteboards to write little notes to each other. I really enjoyed all of these interactions.”
-Claire, Texas

What’s one packing suggestion you have for new students?

“Make sure to pack a fan!”
-Helena, Switzerland

“Bring a refillable water bottle!”
-Lucy, Pennsylvania

“Students should not go without extra money because there are so many great places to eat (in Providence).”
-Jess, New Jersey

“Bring a device of some sort to take pictures and record your experience throughout the program.”
-Alex, Texas

“A comfortable pair of shoes! During your down time at Summer@Brown, you and the new friends you make will want to actively spend time together outside and explore downtown Providence and the surroundings of College Hill. Also, I brought many of my own snacks from home, but soon discovered that in order to fully immerse myself in campus life I should take the time to try the meals from different dining halls. The blueberry muffins from the Blue Room were some of my favorite snacks.”
-Claire, Texas

7 exciting ways to spend your free time at Summer@Brown

Summer@Brown is all about learning, but it doesn’t all happen in the classroom. Whether you’re looking to learn more about college life, sharpen a skill, play a sport or just get off campus for a bit, there’s plenty to do outside of class time as well.

To get you thinking more about how you’re going to spend your outside-of-class and studying time at Summer@Brown, here’s a sampling of some of the activities on offer.

Join a student organization

Summer@Brown student organizations cover everything from recreational activities like running, capture the flag and Quidditch; identity, including ethnic groups, sexual orientation and first-generation college students; and interests outside of academics, like sustainability, poetry and card and board games. Groups, led by a residential advisor (RA), get together regularly for meetings and activities and are a great way to make friends with similar interests outside of your courses and residence hall.

Expand your mind

In addition to student organizations, the Summer@Brown also offers a diverse selection of workshops where students can learn more about a range of topics. Workshops, led by RAs, touch on social issues like classism, cultural appropriation, race, and gender, as well as more college-oriented subjects like time management, choosing a major and critical thinking. All offer a safe space where students can discuss and ask questions about topics they’re curious about.

See a movie

Grab some screen time of the non-computer variety at the free movie screenings that happen every Friday throughout the summer at 8 p.m. in Metcalf Auditorium. This year’s line-up includes a fun mix of recent hits like Moana, the Lego Movie and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, to name a few.

Hit the beach

With more than 400 miles of coastline, you’d be remiss to come to the Ocean State and not set foot on at least one of its many beaches. On weekends throughout the summer, buses with RA chaperones take students to some of Rhode Island’s most scenic sandy spots, including Scarborough and Roger Wheeler state beaches, where you can swim and sunbathe to your heart’s content. Specific dates and sign-up links will be posted on Guidebook, and bus seats are first come, first served, so don’t delay if you’re interested.

Check out colleges

If you’re starting to think about college, the Summer@Brown annual college fair is a great place to start learning more. With representatives from more than 100 colleges and universities in attendance, students can ask questions about the application process, majors they’re interested in and campus life. The fair is open to local students and their families, but Summer@Brown students have exclusive access for the first hour.


Take a day trip

Whether it’s your first time to New England or your fourteenth, there’s probably plenty you’ve yet to explore. Summer@Brown makes a weekend day trip totally doable, with regularly scheduled buses to take students to some of the area’s most popular locales. Take in the sights in Newport or Boston, check out Rhode Island’s Point Judith Lighthouse or root for a minor league Pawtucket Red Sox game. Buses are first come, first served and students are responsible for expenses at the destination.


Explore Providence

You don’t have to travel too far to experience some of the best Rhode Island has to offer. Providence is chock full of history, world-class restaurants, cultural activities and many events happening throughout the summer. Food Truck FridayWaterFireRISD Museum, and Movies on the Block are just a small sampling of the many activities students can enjoy in the city. More information about Providence’s attractions can be found on the Pre-College website.


Guidebook, a free app for Summer@Brown students, will be your go-to source for all co-curricular activities happening on and around campus this summer. Available for download soon, it can be searched by activity or date and even includes information on getting around campus, social media links and other important on-campus resources.

‘Less fear, more excitement’ about college after Summer@Brown

How one student’s Summer@Brown experience made her more ready than ever for her A.P. class and the college application process.

Watching a video about Summer@Brown at her high school last spring, Courtney Bertrand knew instantly that she wanted to attend.

“Learning about the other students’ experiences, it interested me because I knew (attending Summer@Brown) would prepare me for college,” Bertrand recalls.

Her mother, Yvette, agreed.

“I thought it would be an awesome experience for her to live on a college campus, have a roommate and see what it’s like to be away from home,” Yvette says.

So Courtney, a high school junior from Meriden, Connecticut, applied and was accepted to Summer@Brown and received a Partner Scholarship that helped offset the cost of tuition. 

Choosing what Summer@Brown course to take was an equally easy decision.

“I’ve always been interested in criminal law, but I’m taking an A.P. writing course this year and knew I wanted to improve my writing skills before I took that,” Courtney says of her choice to enroll in the two-week course “Writing the Expository Essay.”

Heading to campus for check-in, Courtney describes herself as “pretty excited and not too nervous.” It helped that she had done a similar program at another college the previous summer, so she knew a little bit about what to pack and what to expect.

The one thing she didn’t have experience with was a roommate, so she was also looking forward to meeting the student she would be living with for the next two weeks.

“We instantly clicked,” Courtney says of her roommate, Andrea. “We went to breakfast every day together, we went to the mall together, we just had a lot in common.”

Thinking back to her Summer@Brown experience, Courtney recalls busy days that started at 6:30 a.m. so that she could be ready in time for her morning class. Despite being new to Brown’s campus, Courtney had no trouble finding her way using the Guidebook app, accessible to all Summer@Brown students, to find her way to class and other locations.

“It was extremely easy to use,” she says.

In class, Courtney found the students and her instructor, Michelle Rada, to be “super nice,” and noticed an almost immediate improvement to her writing skills. Courtney knew that staying on topic was one element of her writing she needed to improve upon and she was eager to have the opportunity to work on developing a more succinct writing style. Through the multiple assignments she completed, as well as feedback from both students and Rada, Courtney was feeling more confident in her writing by the end of the course, even garnering comments from Rada on how much more focused her work had become.

Outside of class, Courtney found a sense of camaraderie among the students on her floor in Archibald-Bronson Hall, a group that included teens from multiple states and countries, including Thailand, England, Illinois, California, and Washington.

Together, they took full advantage of Summer@Brown outings and Brown’s central location in Providence, spending time at the beach, the mall, restaurants and attending a Fourth of July fireworks display in the city.

“Because of Summer@Brown I now have friends from all over the world. It’s so great,” Courtney says.

“It’s an amazing opportunity for all of [the Summer@Brown students] to be around like-minded kids who like to learn and who they never would have met otherwise,” says Yvette. “Everyone is there to learn and broaden their horizons, be around new people and be open-minded.”

Busy with class and her new friends, Courtney’s two weeks at Brown flew by and before she knew it she was headed back home to Connecticut.

But even though her Summer@Brown officially ended, Courtney and Yvette say the positive effects of the program have been much longer lasting.

For starters, Courtney still speaks to her dorm-mates regularly via an ongoing group text.

Academically, Courtney has seen many benefits as well.

“It prepared me for the A.P. English class I’m taking this year. I got to class and felt I really knew what I was doing because of my Summer@Brown experience,” she says.

Yvette agrees, noting that having to complete assignments over the summer kept Courtney in an academic frame of mind and made the start of school much easier.

And on a broader scale, she says her daughter is now more prepared than ever for college.

“She has less fear and more excitement about college now,” Yvette explains.

Courtney agrees and is looking forward to touring some campuses before beginning the application process later this year.

“I didn’t know how I’d be in college. I now have a better understanding of what college will be like. I’m more excited, I’m more comfortable.”

Summer@Brown Instructor: Philosopher Bernard Reginster

Course instructors are a vital part of the Summer@Brown experience. Many are on the faculty at Brown University and all come to Summer@Brown with a diverse range of backgrounds, experience and knowledge that they are eager to impart on Summer@Brown students. In this Snapshot series, we’ll check in with an instructor to find out more about how they approach teaching at Summer@Brown and what students can expect to take away from their class.

For this post, we talked to Bernard Reginster, a professor of philosophy at Brown who studied philosophy, psychology and music in Belgium and Germany and holds a PhD in philosophy. Professor Reginster’s work focuses on issues in ethics and philosophy of mind both in 19th and 20th century European philosophy, as well as in psychoanalytic theory. This summer, Professor Reginster will teach two courses: “Happiness: Philosophy and Psychology,” and “Themes from Existentialism.”

The courses I teach are meant to enable students to think on issues, mostly of an ethical sort, that are of pressing concern to people in general, but perhaps more so for young adults trying to make their own way in the world.

Summer@Brown students tend to be eager to learn (as one would expect young people who have chosen to spend their summer in a college classroom). I have found that foreign students, particularly from non-Western cultures, are especially interested in learning about ideas that have shaped, and continue to shape, modern Western sensibilities; and I have the chance to learn from them about their own culture. In general, all students enjoy learning how to think their way through issues of pressing existential concern to them — such as the nature of love, the ideal of being oneself, the character of happiness and its importance for a good life, and so on.

I open my courses with a discussion of the nature of romantic love, asking students to consider their own ideas about it and compare them with the sometimes odd ideas found in some of the readings I assign. In this way, they see how it is possible to gain genuine illumination on this issue, which is of concern to them, by using the methods of philosophy.

A number of students have reported to me over the years how transformative the course was for them. Many of them had never really been exposed to philosophy, or exposed to it at a relatively high level (the courses I give are versions of course I give Brown students). And they come to see philosophy not as a technical, purely conceptual exercise, but as a new tool in their effort to figure out how to make their way in the world.

9 Awesome Things You Could Be Doing This Summer

With nearly three months of school-free time over the summer, the possibilities of how to spend your days are seemingly endless. You could tap into your sense of adventure by trying a new activity or traveling abroad, exercise your scholarly side by exploring a topic you’ve always been interested in, or work your social networking skills by meeting students from all over the country and the world with diverse backgrounds and interests.

Or do all of the above and more through one of Brown University’s Pre-College Summer Programs.

With multiple sessions that last from one to seven weeks, Brown’s Pre-College Summer Programs include more than 300 courses taught on the Brown campus, online and abroad. To be clear, this isn’t summer school. No matter what program you choose, you’ll be engaged in hands-on learning activities and research in a campus setting that will give you a true taste of college life and academics.

To give you a sense of what the programs are all about, here’s a sampling of some of the awesomely unique things you could be doing if you choose a summer at Brown.

1. Get your feet wet

It could be said that no summer is complete without some time on the water. At the Brown Environmental Leadership Lab (BELL) programs in both Rhode Island and the Florida Keys, these idyllic locations are your classroom and home during your session. BELL: Rhode Island takes place amidst the forest, lakes and streams of the Whispering Pines Conference Center in West Greenwich, while BELL: Florida Keys students will visit the MarineLab in Key Largo. You’ll explore the ecosystem – including hiking, wading in wetlands and snorkeling, depending on location – and investigate the challenges faced by the local environment.

2. Hike Alaska’s Russian River to witness the salmon run

Much like its Rhode Island counterpart, BELL: Alaska gets you out of the classroom and exploring the unique environment of the U.S.’s northernmost state. For the two weeks, you’re there, you’ll spend time learning about how the state balances economic growth with cultural and environmental preservation and some of the challenges of striking that balance. Among many exciting activities, you’ll count salmon with Fish and Wildlife employees, venture into a rocky intertidal zone to catch low-tide and assay species, and spend two days mid-session at the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies’ Peterson Bay Field Station.

3. Ponder the possibility of happiness

It might sound like a heavy topic, but if philosophy is one of those subjects you’ve always wanted to dive deeper into, now’s your chance through Summer@Brown. And if writing, engineering, drawing or pretty much any other subject is more your thing, there’s probably a course among the more than 200 to choose from that has you covered. Reflecting Brown’s broad liberal-arts curriculum, courses range from one to four weeks and are taught at the first-year college level. Outside of the classroom, students will experience all that college life has to offer while living on the Brown campus and taking part in a full program of activities and events.

4. Conduct a forensic analysis of a crime scene

Ever wonder what it would be like to be a neurologist, rocket scientist or CSI investigator? Brown’s STEM I and STEM II programs offer middle schoolers and rising 9th and 10th graders the opportunity to explore an array of science-based disciplines of their choosing through hands-on lab experiments, research talks, field trips and independent projects. You might find yourself launching a high-altitude balloon that you and your classmates engineered in a class on flying machines, building a pacemaker-like device to collect biological signals or even using scientific techniques to investigate a mock crime scene, depending on the program and course you choose.

5. Change the world

Even small actions can have far-reaching consequences and at the Brown Leadership Institute, you’ll learn how to take action on a social issue you care about. Understanding such issues is the first step, and through interactive learning activities including case studies, field trips, and discussions, as well as the diverse perspectives of classmates from dozens of countries around the world, you’ll gain a deeper knowledge of various social challenges facing the world today. Throughout the on-campus session, you’ll take part in activities like public speaking and a Challenge Course that will strengthen your leadership skills. You’ll then develop an Action Plan to address a specific issue and return home a socially responsible leader ready to make change happen.

6. Make croquetas in a Segovian kitchen.

Brown’s Pre-College Location-Based Programs offer immersive learning experiences that take students to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia; and abroad to Rome, Italy; to the IE University, one of Europe’s premier business schools, in Segovia, Spain; and to the rainforest of Monteverde, Costa Rica. In each of these programs, the location becomes the classroom, with learning that’s as much academic as it is experience-based. Depending on the program you choose, you might spend part of your time touring Rome with local architecture and cultural experts, visiting with a local Segovian family to cook and sample traditional cuisine, conducting research in CDC labs, or going on a nighttime hike to track nocturnal butterflies in the rainforest, among many other cultural and academic activities.

7. Experience the benefits of a virtual classroom

If you can’t make it to the Brown campus for a summer program, you still have options. Several of our Pre-College courses are offered online, where you’ll delve into the same topics, learn from the same instructors and engage with the same types of exceptional students that you would if you were in the classroom. You also have the option of taking an online course while taking part in a program on the Brown campus. Online courses offer the same rigorous, active learning experiences that those on campus do, and subjects range from neuroscience, to solar-powered energy, to writing, to leadership, all of which you can learn without having to leave home.

8. Get a jumpstart on your college credits

If you’re a rising or graduating high school senior, you can start your undergraduate career a bit early through the Pre-Baccalaureate Program. Choose from a selection of subjects ranging from American studies to visual arts. You’ll study alongside Brown undergraduates while experiencing life on campus and get some credits under your belt before heading off to college.

9. Advance your English skills

If English is your second language and you desire to strengthen your speaking and writing skills before college, the Course for English Language Learners at Brown could be a great option for you. The two-week courses focus on developing higher-level English language skills while exploring a range of interesting topics including American and global culture, history, economics and the arts. The program will give you a leg up on college as you experience life on the Brown campus, learn to balance academics and social activities and gain insight into the college application process.

7 Do’s and Dont’s for completing the Pre-College application

Whether you’ve previously applied to a Pre-College program or it’s your first time, there are a few important things to keep in mind when filling out this year’s application. Here, admission and enrollment specialists offers their dos and don’ts for making the Pre-College application process a smooth one.

DO Know your program

There are always a handful of students who mistakenly choose the wrong program on their application, leading to requests to change their selection. Knowing the correct name of the program, and why you want to apply to it, before you begin the application will avoid unnecessary confusion and backtracking.

DON’T Take the process lightly

Brown Pre-College Programs are an opportunity for students to prepare to attend college and it all starts with the application. Take the pre-college application as seriously as you would a college application: read it over for errors and make sure everything is completely filled out before hitting submit.

DO Take the essay seriously

The essay portion of the application is an important one. Several people, including staff from the Pre-College admission team, program directors and the associate dean might look at your essay, so make sure it’s well-written and represents your best thinking. A good essay should be approximately 500 words, have a narrative and clear argument, correct grammar, and clean formatting. And under no circumstances is it ever acceptable to plagiarize: we want to learn about you and how you think, so sharing your own thoughts is incredibly important. Also, if you are caught, your application may be denied.

DON’T Confuse the program with your desired course

Once accepted to the program, it’s not time to sit back and relax. The most popular courses fill up months in advance, so once you are notified of your acceptance, pay your enrollment deposit and enroll in your desired course(s) right away to ensure your spot.

DO Submit early

All applications are reviewed within two weeks of submission, but that may not be the end of the process. Following review, you may be contacted to provide additional materials, like a current grade report or letter of recommendation. The earlier you submit your materials, the sooner you will receive an admission decision and be able to pick your classes.

DON’T Forget to check in after submitting

Email and the application portal are the primary means by which the Pre-College team will communicate with you throughout the pre- and post-application process. So check those often to make sure you don’t miss anything.

DO check out available cost-saving options

Financial aid is available for Pre-College Programs in the form of both an application fee waiver (requested during the application process) and the Dean’s Scholarship (applied for after acceptance). For more information, including eligibility requirements, visit

Q and A with new BELL Programs Director Jane Diener

This summer’s addition of the Florida Keys and a new Rhode Island site aren’t the only things that are new about the Brown Environmental Leadership Lab (BELL). Director Jane Diener joined BELL this fall, fresh from earning her PhD in Forest Resources from the University of Georgia and bringing with her with a wealth of experience in environmental education. Here, she spoke with us about her background, what she loves most about BELL, and exciting additions she hopes to bring to the program in the future.

Briefly describe your professional background.

While in school for the last 9 years, I have had a variety of internships and jobs that allowed me to gain experience in environmental education across different populations. As an intern at my local water conservation office, I provided environmental education and water conservation tips to people of all ages and backgrounds. Around the same time, I was an ambassador for my forestry school, going into the community to judge grade school environmental competitions and do fun outreach with our school’s animals (turtles, snakes, oh my!). I also created programming for a couple of summer camps before suggesting a new job at the University of Georgia, where I was a student: a sustainability intern for University Housing. It would allow me to educate the 8,000 students living on my campus about how they could reduce their environmental impact. The department agreed and we started on a really exciting movement toward a number of new sustainability initiatives. That job lead me to a full-time role as a sustainability coordinator in the same department and eventually to my job here at Brown.

This isn’t your first role with BELL. How did you initially become involved with the program and what was your role?

While I was working at UGA as a sustainability intern, a mentor suggested I get some experience at another school to see if I enjoyed working with college students. That suggestion lead to a serendipitous sequence of events: I applied to work as a residential director at Brown for summer 2014 and was asked if I’d like to interview for a BELL instructor position instead. I got the job and soon after found myself in Rhode Island for the first time. That was an absolutely transformational experience. I returned in 2015 and 2016, while I was still working on my PhD. While I was wrapping up my dissertation, I saw that the program director position was available. In one of the craziest weeks of my life, I defended my dissertation then flew to Providence for my program director interview. The best news is that I passed the defense AND got the job. I feel very fortunate.

What did you enjoy most about working with BELL previously?

I still get chills when I think about my first exposure to BELL: Rhode Island. From a professional perspective, I most enjoyed learning from my co-workers and supervisor, Lauren Watka. Over the three summers I worked at BELL: Rhode Island, I was able to learn from some really talented co-instructors. Their confidence and passion was an inspiration to me. Personally, BELL was a huge breath of fresh air — literally. Everything about the program made it idyllic: the beauty of the site, the intelligent and joyful students, the influence of Brown University on the values of the program. It had a profound impact on me as a person, and it’s difficult to imagine my life without teaching at BELL.

What are you most looking forward to doing as program director?

Continuing the unmatched legacy of BELL. The existing programs are so intentional and well-designed, so I will keep a lot of what was done in the past. Our programs in Rhode Island, Alaska, and the Florida Keys will serve as great educational experiences for years to come. But like most environmental educators, I’m most excited about the next big thing! I’m hoping to expand the BELL program to new, exciting locations that will help students understand the impacts of global climate change on a variety of ecosystems and communities.

What are your responsibilities as the program director?

My main responsibility is to plan the Brown Environmental Leadership Lab. That includes hiring and training qualified staff members, connecting with guest speakers, compiling or updating curricula, and working with our contacts at each site to make reservations and plan program logistics. Fortunately, I don’t have to do any of this alone. I get to collaborate with other people in Brown’s School of Professional Studies, including APCs (hey, Monique and Karen!) and the other program directors.

Any changes to this year’s program?

This year, BELL: Rhode Island is going to be at a new site. We are moving the program into the forest! This means our students will get to hike through streams, discover different species of turtles, and study the beautiful lakes and dense forests of Whispering Pines in West Greenwich.We are also offering BELL: Florida Keys in the summer for the first time. The MarineLab in Key Largo, Florida is so excited to host our students for a week of marine ecology labs (not to mention snorkeling and kayaking).

Why are programs like BELL important?

BELL programs are so beneficial because they give students from all over the world an opportunity to use different ecosystems as living laboratories. Spending time getting to know a natural environment allows students to learn more skills in environmental protection and become more familiar with forms of advocacy. It’s one thing to learn about these environments in a classroom, but it’s a much more meaningful experience to live in a forest, snorkel above a beautiful coral reef, or hike on a glacier.  

On a personal note, what has been your favorite discovery about Rhode Island so far?

My two favorite things about Rhode Island so far: food and nature! I’m loving RI’s commitment to donuts and I’ve also been trying as much local seafood as I can get my hands on. And I was pleasantly surprised by the ecological diversity of this beautiful state. We have rivers, forests, ocean, wetlands, everything! And since this is my first “real” winter, I also got to see a frozen river. If you’ve never seen that in real life before, it’s mind-boggling.

For more information on BELL Programs visit our website

5 Reasons a Location-Based Program May Be Right for You

If you’re considering one of Brown’s Pre-College summer programs, there are several on-campus options. But if learning with an international twist is more your speed, Brown also offers location-based programs in Rome, Italy, Segovia, Spain, and Monteverde, Costa Rica. Not sure if an immersive, location-based experience is right for you? Here are five reasons one of these programs might just be the perfect fit.

1.) You yearn to break out of the classroom

At all three programs, much of the learning happens outside of the traditional classroom setting. In “The Many Faces of Rome,” the city becomes the classroom as local experts take you to see many of the the historic, cultural and artistic sites the city has to offer. One day you may find yourself on a private tour of the Colosseum with the engineer who created a lift inside the ancient structure, and the next, you’re walking through the Sistine Chapel with an art historian. In Segovia, where much of the program’s economics-based learning does happen in a classroom of the IE Business School, there’s still plenty of time set aside for workshops to learn about Spain’s language and culture through hands-on activities. And in Costa Rica, you’ll study forest ecology at the source – the Monteverde Cloud Forest – where you’ll conduct field studies and take night hikes to look for nocturnal butterflies.

2.) You’d like to meet people from other countries

The Pre-College Location-Based Programs aren’t just about placing students from the U.S. in different locations. Instead, you’ll find yourself taking courses with students from other countries, giving you exposure to a range of cultures and perspectives, much like college. “The Location-Based Programs are very similar to a first-year college experience,” Program Director Rosario Navarro says. “They’re about getting out there and engaging with both the content and students from around the world, meeting people they would not necessarily meet who are just as interested in the subject matter as they are.”

3.) You’re interested in experiencing other cultures

Rome and Segovia offer plenty of opportunity to be immersed in the cultures of two of Europe’s great countries. In Rome, you’ll spend your days exploring with expert guides, visiting sites like St. Peter’s Basilica as well as stopping to shop and sample Italy’s incomparable cuisine. You’ll have a chance to visit Pompeii, the Amalfi Coast and Assisi to experience other parts of the country.

In between economics and language courses in Segovia, you’ll take part in several Cultural Workshops, where you’ll learn about Spain’s art, cuisine, geography, history, literature and music through hands-on activities like cooking croquetas and hiking part of the famed Camino de Santiago.

And when you’re not hanging among the trees, you’ll spend time in the Costa Rican city of San Jose, shopping in the Central Market to experience the locally grown food and the culture.

4.) You want to learn more about global issues

Issues-based learning led by some of the world’s leading economists at Spain’s IE Business School is at the heart of the program in Segovia. “We want students to walk away from the program understanding that global business is not just economics but understanding how decisions made about issues like austerity, for example, can affect not just one country, but the world,” Navarro says.

In Costa Rica, you’ll learn how climate change is affecting the ecosystem and have the opportunity to meet with farmers and residents to learn first-hand how locals are balancing economic development with environmental preservation.

5.) You want to brush up on your language skills

Sure, language can be taught in a classroom, but truly the best, and fastest, way to master a foreign tongue is to be immersed in it. In Rome, you’ll take your education to the streets, using the native language organically during meals, shopping, gelato crawls and other excursions. You can expect a similar experience in Spain, coupled with an intermediate Spanish course – students must have at least two years of Spanish education to be accepted – that is taught completely in the language and covers everything from grammar and syntax, to Segovian culture and history. While in Costa Rica, you’ll have opportunities to practice your Spanish-speaking skills with locals in the rainforest and the city. With all three locations, you’ll leave the program with improved verbal and written skills that you can show off to your friends when you get home.

Interested in global health? In addition to these international programs, Brown offers a location-based program at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia. To learn more about all of Brown’s Pre-College Location-Based Programs, or to apply, visit