Cooper Logo

Our educational philosophies are based on the beliefs and guidelines of the Institute for Earth Education, an international organization dedicated to connecting learners of all ages to the natural world.


The Philosophies of the Cooper Center



The Cooper Center for Environmental Learning is a campus that inspires participants to preserve the Sonoran Desert and live more lightly on the earth, offers extended programs in earth education, provides classes and workshops to help prepare teachers, interns and graduate students in environmental learning, and encourages doctoral students to conduct research on outdoor learning and sustainable practices.



The Mission of the Cooper Center is to serve Southern Arizona as a leader in:

  • increasing ecological understandings and deepening feelings for the natural world,
  • providing hands-on, research-based programs in science and earth education,
  • creating lifelong memories through our overnight and multi-night experiences,
  • and inspiring learners of all ages, from children to university students to adults, to live more lightly in our Sonoran Desert community and beyond.


The "Whys" of the Cooper Center



Sense of Place:  We believe it is our duty and obligation to help people learn about and feel connected to the desert in which we live.

Sense of Wonder:  We believe that each day the beauty of the Sonoran Desert is offered up to us through a unique array of plants, animals, and vistas – ours to enjoy by simply taking the time to step into the outdoors.

Sense of Action:  We believe that each person must pledge to make small and large changes at home, work, and school to help preserve our natural communities of life.










The "Whats" of the Cooper Center



Understanding:  We believe in encouraging people to develop a comprehension of the major ecological systems and communities of the planet.

Feelings:  We believe in instilling in people deep and abiding emotional attachments to the Earth.

Processings:  We believe in preparing people to live more harmoniously and joyously with the Earth and all its passengers


The "Ways" of the Cooper Center



Education:  We believe that offering extended educational programs and workshops that are carefully structured, adventuresome, and experiential with specific outcomes in mind will encourage lifelong learning, thoughtful choices, and memorable experiences for people of all ages.

Partnerships:  We believe in preparing educators, promoting student learning, and developing a strong sense of community and purpose through working relationships with others in the Southern Arizona Community.

Modeling:  We believe that to lessen our impact on the desert and serve as a model for others, we must reduce the center’s waste stream, pledge to use fewer non-renewable resources, and use the best conservation practices when constructing or renovating structures.