Environmental Immersion Program
at the Kohler Environmental Center
The Kohler Environmental Center (KEC— located at 211 East Main Street) is the first teaching, research, and residential environmental center in U.S. secondary education. The KEC features an environmentally advanced design that serves as a living laboratory for its interdisciplinary programs. Located on 266 acres of undeveloped land, the facility includes a greenhouse, laboratory spaces, classrooms, residential quarters for faculty, students, and guest educators in residence, and several advanced environmental features, including:
- LEED Platinum Building Certification
- Net Zero Energy Consumption
- Geothermal Heating and Cooling
- Passive and Active Solar
- Greenhouse Heated by Waste Oil
The Environmental Immersion Program (EIP) at the Kohler Environmental Center seeks to create a scholarly community dedicated to promoting environmental understanding, stewardship of the land, and social responsibility. It is a year-long residential program open to fifth and sixth formers and its academic courses include:
- Literature and the Landscape
- Environmental Ethics
- Environmental Economics
- Environmental Policy
- Nature Photography
- Biology (for students who haven’t yet taken biology)
- Interdisciplinary Research Methods
- Independent Research Project
- Main campus electives in a topic of the student’s choice
Diploma requirements satisfied by the program include English (one year), biology (one year), philosophy/ religion (one credit), contemporary global studies (one credit), and visual arts (one credit). In addition, one quantitative credit is earned.
to create a scholarly community dedicated to promoting environmental understanding, stewardship of the land, and social responsibility
In addition to the program’s unique academic courses, EIP participants are encouraged to participate in the full array of Choate sports and clubs, as well as the EIP specific programs, which include a hiking and paddling club, a SCUBA certification program, and an organic farming program.
The Guiding Principles of the program are:
- Purpose driven research empowers student-scholars to pursue questions of importance to environmental stewardship and to become meaningful contributors to academic disciplines.
- Ecological education is inherently interdisciplinary and stresses the connections between the natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, and the arts.
- The green social contract calls on all participants to share in the environmental mission of the program, to actively participate in community life, and to be accountable to each other and future generations.
- A culture of caring is created by fostering a supportive environment in which empathy for others, the surrounding community, and the natural world forms the foundation for stewardship in the broadest sense.
- Our Land Ethic demands that participants use care when making land management decisions; that they uphold their intergenerational responsibilities; and that biodiversity is used as the highest measure of land management success.
- Environmental leadership skills are developed by entrusting students to take responsibility for their individual environmental impact, to work collectively to achieve common environmental goals, and to lead others toward environmental objectives.
- Leading by doing calls on students to live in a manner that is mindful of nature and serves as a model for their peers, academic institutions, and society in general.
The KEC is a place where students live what they learn. Says Headmaster Alex D. Curtis, “Emphasizing the best of collaborative learning, the Kohler Environmental Center is the ultimate working, living laboratory and offers endless possibilities for learning, growth and change.”