Leah Mundell, PhD

Leah Mundell Lecturer
Northern Arizona University
Blg 70 Rm #221


  • Community Organizing and Theories of Social Change
  • Immigration and Refugee Policy
  • Religion and Discourses of Faith
  • Politics of Public Education

Regions of Study

  • United States
  • South Africa



  • Amherst College (BA)
  • University of California at Santa Cruz (MA, PhD)



2016    Mundell, Leah. “Models for Migrant Leadership: The Cape Town Women’s Platform.” African Human Mobility Review 2(2): 489-511.

2015    Mundell, Leah, Lisa J. Hardy, Roxana De Niz and Michelle Thomas. “Defying Displacement: Organizing for a Beautiful Life in Flagstaff, Arizona.” Practicing Anthropology 37(2): 35-39.

2010    Mundell, Leah. “A Theology of Presence: Faith Partnerships with U.S. Public Schools.” In Not By Faith Alone: Social Services, Social Justice, and Faith-Based Organizations in the U.S., edited by Julie Adkins, Laurie Occhipinti, and Tara Hefferan.Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

2004    Gold, Eva, Elaine Simon, Leah Mundell, and Chris Brown. “Bringing Community Organizing into the School Reform Picture.” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 33S(3):54S-76S.

2004    Bulkley, Katrina, Leah Mundell, and Morgan Riffer. Contracting Out Schools: The First Year of the Philadelphia Diverse Provider Model. Philadelphia, PA: Research for Action.


As an applied anthropologist, my research interests intersect directly with my experience as a community organizer. My current research focuses on the experiences of African refugees in Cape Town, South Africa, where I am working with the Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town in developing a cross-national Women’s Platform. I explore the organizational challenges and life experiences of women attempting to act collectively in a context of increasing xenophobia and restrictive immigration policy.

At NAU, I facilitate the Immigration Action Learning Team, an opportunity for students to conduct community-based research and engage locally in issues of immigration. Students in the Immigration ALT and my course on Global Migration take a multi-day field trip to the U.S./Mexico border to discuss issues such as immigration detention, border security, labor issues, migrant deaths, and environmental effects of our current immigration policies. Recently, the Immigration ALT helped develop a photo exhibit, “Migrant Lives and Leadership,” which combines photos and interview excerpts to compare the experiences of migrants in Cape Town, South Africa and Flagstaff, Arizona.

I am the coordinator for the NAU Civic Engagement Minor, which can be combined with any NAU major to give students hands-on skills in democratic action to help bring about change at local, national, and global levels.

I am also a faculty advisor for Community University Public Inquiry, an interdisciplinary. undergraduate research collaboration with Flagstaff organizations. My research pod works with Northern Arizona Interfaith Council, where I previously served as Director of Organizing, to conduct research on immigration policy and issues of local concern.