Michael L. Vasquez, PhD

Michael L. Vasquez Professor
Northern Arizona University
Blg 98D
Phone: 928-523-9506


  • applied
  • indigenous agriculture
  • cultural ecology
  • globalization
  • agricultural development
  • community-based research
  • US Southwest, Mesoamerica


BA, University of California-Berkeley 1970
MA, San Francisco State University 1980
MS, PhD, University of California-Davis 1989


Dr. Michael (Miguel) Vasquez is an applied anthropologist who has worked with Mayan, Latino, Native American, African American, and Southeast Asian refugee communities for more than 30 years in the areas of globalization and its impacts, traditional ecological knowledge, community-based participatory research, and rapid qualitative assessment techniques. He is a recipient of the Community Luminary Award from The State of Black Arizona and, in 2009, was awarded the NAU Presidents Distinguished Teaching Fellow Award. His spouse of 40 years, Marina, is a Mayan Traditional Knowledge Scholar with the NAU Applied Indigenous Studies Program.

Vasquez has provided consultation for Catholic Charities, San Joaquin County (California), the Hopi Tribe, the Havasupai Tribe, the National Park Service, the World Health Organization, the US Department of Health and Human Services, and the Sunnyside Neighborhood Association of Flagstaff. He has served on the board of the International Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, the Arizona Association of Chicanos in Higher Education, and the Museum of Northern Arizona, Friends of Flagstaff’s Future, and the Flagstaff Unified School District, He currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Society for Applied Anthropology

His work at NAU has focused on community-based ethnography and applied anthropology with both local indigenous groups and minority communities in Arizona and across the country. His work in Arizona has emphasized reciprocity between NAU and diverse organizations to strengthen both local community cultural assets and the educational experience for native and non-native students. This collaboration began with the Havasupai Tribe in the creation of the video documentary, “Farmers of the Grand Canyon” and later led to work with the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office (HCPO ) on the Bacavi Terrace Project, which helped restore Bacavi Village’s 700 year old terrace gardens to safe and productive use, as well as documentation and education of local youth in traditional agro-ecological knowledge.

Ties between NAU Anthropology and the HCPO developed into other projects. Together with other NAU faculty, the HCPO, the National Park Service, and the Hopi Foundation, Vasquez helped to develop a Ruins Preservation Training Workshop for unemployed Hopi youth, which has generated careers in cultural preservation and a new interest in the relevance of anthropology for the Hopi. NAU students have collaborated closely with the HCPO: in transcription for tribal archives, development of a cultural curriculum with the NAU Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals, research in cultural affiliation, development of health and nutrition media materials for the Hopi Health Center. Students also created the original HCPO website, winning the national student award of the Society for Applied Anthropology. Most recently, he has served as a consultant for the NEH-funded Hopi Foot Prints Project to develop K-8 cultural curriculum with several reservation schools.

Another focus of his work has been as Trainer, Evaluator, or Project Analyst for different programs of the RARE (Rapid Assessment Response and Evaluation) Project, working with minority communities in 15 U.S. cities to reduce HIV/AIDS risk factors. This work, sponsored by the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, helped to significantly reduce the number of new HIV/AIDS in African American and Latino communities across the country.

Current research and applied projects

In the past few years Dr. Vasquez has combined RARE (Rapid Assessment Response and Evaluation) methodologies with his interests in community-based research and culturally relevant education for Latino and Native American youth. His current research in the diverse Sunnyside neighborhood of Flagstaff works with schools and local organizations to better engage and involve parents in their childrens’ STEM education in a Title I school. This grew out of RARE training he provided the Hermosa Vida project – a successful initiative aimed at childhood obesity in local schools and currently involves the award-winning STEM Outreach Project of Killip Elementary School and Community Learning Center.

Coming full circle with his original work with Southeast Asian refugee communities more than 30 years ago, Vasquez is currently assisting in developing a video documentary project on an innovative life integration training program for Middle-Eastern refugees and immigrants in Vienna, Austria. The project will incorporate RARE methodologies in determining and highlighting factors for success in integrating displaced families into the fabric of host societies.