Global Environmental Leadership and Sustainability (GELS)

Experience life and learning in the lab, in the field, and in the classroom.

Through the Global Environmental Leadership and Sustainability (GELS) programs students can spend a week on the big island of Hawaii working hand-in-hand with prominent locals, grad students, and university instructors exploring the causes and effects of climate change on earth's systems.

Students learn how the island thrives ecologically, economically, culturally, and socially via hands-on work at multiple locations around the Big Island. The week begins with discussing and defining issues relevant to island life and the Big Island of Hawai’i in particular. Students participate in hands-on work to research and discover what the islanders face in dealing with some of the more prominent issues defined by the group. The program concludes with a solution-based outlook where students present their findings in a scientific poster format.

The program connects scientific research with leadership training and personal growth. Students collaborate, reflect and engage in leadership activities from a value-based process resulting in positive social change, emphasizing the Social Change Model of Leadership. 

Students will experience:

  • A combination of scientific research with leadership training and personal growth skills to become a leader of change.
  • Cutting-edge coursework taught by renowned researchers and local Hawaiians studying water quality, coral reef health, and sustainability methods in Hilo and Kona.
  • A trek across Kilauea's lava caldera learning the history of the volcano, the geology, and the flora and fauna of this island volcano at Volcanoes National Park.
  • Service work at the Ka’upulehu Dryland Forest and at Kiholo Bay studying the roles and impact of native and invasive species, and helping to restore the turtle sanctuary.
  • Culture and customs of the island working with native Hawaiians.
  • How to demonstrate their understanding of principles and topics covered by developing a scientific poster presentation.
  • The dynamics of their own personal values and characteristics and how they contribute to group dynamics and success both in scientific research and in peer interactions.

Be a change agent and apply today!

Students receive 3 units of pre-college credit for completing the GELS Hawaii program.

Availability description

This unique week-long program takes students to the Big Island of Hawaii to work with locals exploring the causes and effects of climate change on earth's systems.

Age/Grade Level
Grades 9-12
Cost Range
Greater than $200
Time of Day
All Day
Opportunity type
Out-of-school Programs
Area of Interest
Biology / LifeSciences
Earth Science/Ecology
Physical Science
Financial Support or Scholarship Available?
NGSS Aligned?
Location Address:
Big Island of Hawaii
Contact Name:
Maysoon Dong

Global Environmental Leadership and Sustainability (GELS)

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