Embedded locally with global reach.

About Us

The UC San Diego Global Environmental Leadership and Sustainability pre-college programs are designed to provide high achieving high school students the opportunity to engage and address environmental issues in the world today in an effort to develop future "Leaders in Caring for the Earth."

Our program offerings include four field research sites located on the Big Island of Hawai'i, Biosphere 2 - Arizona, Catalina Island, Washington D.C., and Mexico. 

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Why UC San Diego?

UC San Diego is an academic powerhouse and economic engine, recognized as one of the top 10 public universities by U.S. News & World Report and ranked number one in the nation for public service by the Washington Monthly. Our location is unparalleled, our impact unmistakable.

Program Selection Considerations

The GELS programs combine current scientific research with leadership training and personal growth skills. But which GELS program is the right one for you?

  • Biosphere 2: Our Biosphere 2 program is an intense science course during which your research team designs an experiment, collects data, analyzes the results and presents your findings with a scientific poster produced during the program. Leadership training is incorporated into the program and you experience personal growth as the program unfolds.
  • Hawai'i:Our Hawai'i program has students examining issues of island life, particularly the Big Island. Biodoversity reduction, habitat destruction and coastal storm impacts, are a few of the impacted areas students will experience first hand. Through addressing these and other issues around the island with native Hawaiians and hands on knowledge, our students will help develop proposals and solutions for combatting the effects of climate change. 
  • SIO/Washington DC: Our SIO/DC program covers the application of your knowledge. After analyzing data Scripps Institution of Oceanography has been collecting for over 100 years, you learn how to interpret that data and use the information to select an environmental issue you are passionate about. You are then taught the leadership skills necessary to lobby on Capitol Hill with your own Representative and present your issue in a professional and informative way. 
  • Catalina Island: Our Catalina Island program is an abbreviated version of our GELS programs. This program provides the key leadership, hands-on science, and research we offer in the other programs in a short schedule format. This is a great program for students and parents who want a great experience at an economic price point. 
  • Mexico: UCSD’s Centro Fox GELS program is ideal for high school students with a strong interest in environmental sustainability, and particularly those who are curious to understand how Mexico is integrated into the global economy while still preserving its rich cultural history. The program has a special emphasis on cultural sustainability and is a great option for students that have an interest in leadership and the issue of cultural preservation in the face of global economic forces.

If you have further questions, please send us an email to academicconnections@ucsd.edu