2014 Summer Institute for Sustainable Communities

Join us in beautiful Flagstaff, Arizona for sustainability workshops.

The SUS Summer Institute for Sustainable Communities offers graduate students and the greater Flagstaff community the opportunity to learn hands-on skills. 

For more information or to register, please call 

NAU graduate students who wish to take the workshops for credit may register online at https://my.nau.edu or contact us at Sustainable.Communities@nau.edu. Some need-based, non-credit workshop scholarships are available for community members who would like to participate in a Summer Institute workshop.

Community Needs Assessment

Instructed by Dr. Miguel Vasquez

  • May 16, 6PM-9PM
  • May 17, 9AM-5PM
  • May 18, 9AM-1PM
  • May 23, 6PM-9PM
  • May 24, 9AM-5PM
  • May 25, 9AM-1PM


The cost of the workshop is either a $250 workshop registration or 2 units of graduate credit (pass/fail) through NAU as SUS 599 Contemporary Developments: Community Needs Assessment

Workshop details 

Do you need to complete qualitative thesis or dissertation research? Do you work in the private, public, or non-governmental sector? Do you need to know what is going on in your community? Do you need to know how to translate your findings into doable and sustainable solutions?

Using Rapid Assessment, Response, and Evaluation (RARE) techniques developed for the US Department of Health and Human services, and now used by agencies and organizations around the world and here in Flagstaff, this course will provide you with the basic techniques to enable you to assess community behaviors, needs, and perspectives in a focused, systematic, and credible manner and to communicate them to stakeholders and policy makers:

  • observation
  • social mapping
  • street intercept surveys
  • cultural expert interviews
  • focus groups

Speaker biography 

Dr. Miguel Vasquez, applied anthropologist on the NAU faculty, has worked as a trainer, evaluator, and consultant for the US Office of Minority Health with RARE projects in 19 cities across the US.

Filmmaking for Social Change: Place-Based Media Arts

Instructed by Rachel Tso

  • June 20, 6-9 PM
  • June 21, 9-5 PM
  • June 22, 9-1 PM
  • June 27, 6-9 PM
  • June 28, 9-5 PM
  • June 29, 9-1 PM


The cost of the workshop is either $250 workshop registration or 2 units of graduate credit (pass/fail) through NAU as SUS 599 Contemporary Developments: Filmmaking for Social Change: Place-Based Media Arts.

Workshop details 

This course explores the use of filmmaking and other media arts projects as a participatory education vehicle that engages students in their community and place. During this course students will create a short form documentary or narrative film about a subject meaningful to them and their community and will be guided through all three phases of media arts production from pre-production to production and then editing and distribution. Students will examine media literacy and media arts projects as place-based education instruments to affect social change and regenerate and sustain communities.

Speaker biography 

Rachel Tso is an Award-Winning Educator, Filmmaker, Producer, Director, and the Developer of Place-Based Media Arts Education and Curriculum. She has been successfully teaching youth and adults throughout the country filmmaking and theatrical skills so they could tell their own unique stories since 1992. Her passion is in facilitating students and educators in creating Place-Based Media / Theatre Arts projects that are deeply meaningful for them and their communities. Currently, she is serving as the STAR 3-to-3rd Project Coordinator through a Rural Trust Grant with the STAR School and has developed a multimedia training and workshop curriculum with 8 instructional training films and a research manual demonstrating the innovative STAR 3-to-3rd (age 3 to grade 3) project. Rachel is also a consultant throughout Northern Arizona collaborating with educators on media and arts integration.

Permaculture and Building Local Food Systems

Instructed by Josh Robinson

  • August 2, 9-5 PM
  • August 3, 9-5 PM
  • August 4, 9-5 PM
  • August 5, 9-5 PM


The cost of the workshop is either a $250 workshop registration or 2 units of graduate credit (pass/fail) through NAU as SUS 599 Contemporary Developments: Permaculture and Building Local Food Systems

Workshop details 

Permaculture is a design system that enables humans to meet their needs while enhancing the ecological abundance that surrounds them. It is based in positive solutions modeled after nature. In this project based course participants will learn how to use permaculture design as a tool to develop resilient local food systems. Course will cover ecology and natural ecosystem fundamentals, history of agriculture, synergistic business and cooperative models, land access, and design principles to create local food system solutions. Participants will visit local sites and organizations that are working towards local food resiliency.

Speaker biography 

Josh Robinson has been teaching, designing, and installing integrated permaculture based systems professionally since 2006. He received his Master's Degree in Ecological Landscape Design from Prescott College. He started the first permaculture based landscaping company in Northern Arizona specializing in integrated water harvesting. He is the recipient of the Toby Hemenway's "Gaia's Garden" and the Art Ludwig's "Create an Oasis with Greywater" award.