Discover+ Opportunities: Sustainability and the Environment

July 11, 2023

In recent years, sustainability and environmental awareness have become increasingly important topics. As a result, colleges and universities are actively seeking students who demonstrate a commitment to sustainability and have participated in programs related to the environment. Engaging in sustainability initiatives not only benefits the planet but also enhances your college application in a number of ways.

  • Participating in sustainability programs showcases your genuine passion and commitment to making a positive impact on the environment. It demonstrates to college admissions officers that you care about the world around you and highlights your proactive approach to problem-solving and your desire to be part of the solution.
  • Sustainability programs often involve interdisciplinary learning, allowing you to explore connections between different subjects and apply critical-thinking skills. By participating in such programs, you broaden your knowledge beyond traditional academic boundaries. This interdisciplinary approach demonstrates your ability to think holistically and tackle complex problems—skills that are highly valued by colleges and universities.
  • Participating in sustainability programs often involves engaging with the local community. These experiences not only demonstrate your desire to create positive change but also highlight your ability to work collaboratively towards a common goal.

Discover+, AtomicMind’s free online catalog of high-impact extracurricular opportunities, was inspired by our years of experience helping students find and engage in a broad array of meaningful, enriching extracurricular activities, including prestigious programs on sustainability and the environment, some of the best of which are described below. Feel free to contact us for guidance and support in choosing and engaging in an environmental program that’s the right fit for you.

Brown Environmental Leadership Labs (BELL): Alaska

The Brown Environmental Leadership Lab (BELL) in Alaska is an immersive program that combines environmental studies, ecology, and leadership development and aims to cultivate socially responsible leaders. Participants spend two weeks exploring Alaska's diverse ecosystems, delving into topics such as climate change's impact on culture, economics, and the environment. The program includes visits to cultural and ecological sites, including the Anchorage Museum, Alaska Native Heritage Center, and Matanuska Glacier. Throughout the program, participants identify a pressing issue about which they are passionate and develop an action plan to address it upon their return home. BELL offers a transformative experience that fosters environmental understanding, leadership skills, and community building.

Columbia Climate Corps - Traveling Summer Programs

The Columbia Climate Corps offers engaging and educational programs for motivated high school students with a focus on climate and sustainability. These summer programs provide students with the opportunity to explore destinations in the United States and abroad through the lens of climate change, with an emphasis on location-specific themes. Accompanied by faculty and staff from the Columbia Climate School, students participate in cutting-edge research, attend lectures, and participate in workshops. Overall, these programs offer a transformative experience that fosters a deeper understanding of climate change, as well as a chance to forge meaningful connections with peers and group leaders.

NYU SPS High School Academy - Climate Change, Sustainable Development, and Universal Rights

The global climate crisis serves as a powerful focal point for understanding interconnected issues such as earth science, energy infrastructure, sustainable development, and human security. This week-long program offers an in-depth overview of the pressing global challenges we face today. Led by expert faculty and guest speakers, it incorporates site visits, readings, debates, and other interactive exercises. By participating in this program, which is an excellent opportunity for those interested in global affairs, you will broaden your horizons, deepen your understanding of complex global issues, and gain a fresh perspective on our world.

Oxford Royale Academy: Racing Extinction: Climate, Politics, and Global Leadership

Immerse yourself in a transformative course that empowers you to preserve life on Earth by tackling challenging global issues. Through collaboration in small groups, you will explore the intersection of climate science, politics, law, and leadership to generate innovative solutions. Engage with inspiring speakers and compelling case studies as you delve into political science, climate science, and international affairs. Enhance your leadership skills, public-speaking abilities, and understanding of issues like climate change, wildlife conservation, and global governance. Discover potential career pathways in climate science, politics, law, and wildlife conservation while building a network of future leaders. Strengthen critical-thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity skills through this enriching experience.

Tufts University Pre-College Program: Climate Resilience Institute

In the face of urgent environmental challenges and the need for social equity, studying the intersection of environmental change and social issues has never been more crucial. This interdisciplinary course offers students the opportunity to delve into the social, ecological, and political dimensions of contemporary environmental issues through a case-study approach. Experts from various fields impart knowledge on environmental change, resilience, and data-analysis techniques. Students actively engage in community responses to climate change by participating in socio-environmental field trips with local organizations in Boston. Working in small teams, students identify a research question, collect and analyze data, and synthesize their findings into a college-level capstone project. From resilient water infrastructure to climate activism and environmental justice, this course equips students with the tools and understanding needed to address environmental challenges while promoting social equity.

UC San Diego Global Environmental Leadership & Sustainability Program: Hawai’i

The program offers high school students a unique opportunity to collaborate with local residents, graduate students, and university instructors on the Big Island of Hawai'i, focusing on the causes and effects of climate change. Participants engage in scientific research, leadership training, and personal growth while working alongside UCSD researchers and local Hawaiians to study water quality, coral reef health, and sustainability methods. As the program concludes, students give back to the community by working with the Nature Conservancy to restore the turtle sanctuary at Kiholo Bay. This program provides a comprehensive experience that combines scientific research, leadership development, and environmental stewardship in the unique setting of the Big Island of Hawai'i.

UChicago Summer Session - Young Innovators Climate & Energy Program

The Young Innovators Climate & Energy Program is a week-long enrichment program that equips high school students with the knowledge and skills needed for future careers in climate and energy policy. Led by renowned faculty from the University of Chicago, students engage in rigorous discussions, lectures, readings, and collaborative projects centered around pressing climate and energy issues. The program, which is hosted on campus, provides a valuable learning experience and exposure to potential career paths in climate and energy policy.

Where There Be Dragons - Colorado River Basin Semester: Sustainability and Resilience in the Western US

This program is focused on building meaningful connections with local communities, providing individualized support, and adhering to responsible travel ethics. Students embark on a transformative journey to explore the complex, diverse region of the United States, engaging in activities such as studying permaculture on local farms, backpacking to the source of the Colorado River, and floating and hiking through Utah's desert canyons. Through interactions with scientists, activists, ranchers, and recreational groups, students gain a deeper understanding of land and water demands. They delve into issues of food justice, study controversial land-use practices, and learn about practical solutions for climate change from sustainable farmers. This program, which aims to foster a comprehensive understanding of human history and a profound connection with the natural environment, offers an immersive and educational experience that combines adventure, environmental learning, and cultural exploration in the stunning American Southwest.