Community and University Public Inquiry


  • Build leadership, collaboration, and research skills
  • Work with a small interdisciplinary team of upper-level undergraduate students, two graduate students and a faculty advisor
  • Select the project you want to work on
  • Receive independent research credits


CUPI is a collaborative research project that brings together 10 to 15 undergraduate students from different disciplines, two Sustainable Communities graduate students, a faculty advisor, and a community partner. We aim to give undergraduate students experience and leadership skills through applied community inquiry, while focusing on addressing a community partner’s identified research need. Undergraduate students receive independent research credits that can be applied toward their major.


  • Increase undergraduate applied and interdisciplinary research at NAU.
  • Engage students in issues relevant to the Flagstaff community, while also increasing partnerships between the University and communities in Northern Arizona.
  • Build up students’ inquiry skills, research ethics, and experience to help them in the job market or graduate school.
  • Give students opportunities to collaborate, communicate, and work across disciplinary lines.
  • Enable students to recognize and understand complex systems using interdisciplinary approaches.
  • Foster and develop strong interpersonal, listening, and leadership skills within students. 


  • Jabulani School Simulation: This pod works with the College of Education to help create an interactive, online diversity interface. Future teachers will use these profiles to become highly prepared to work with diverse students in the future. CUPI participants will apply theoretical frameworks to understand the perspectives of teachers and parents in the Flagstaff Unified School District (FUSD) and use this information to compile educational student profiles.
  • Flagstaff Foodlink: This pod aims at understanding local farmers’ needs and where they need support in order to create a thriving local food economy in Northern Arizona. This research asks: how can Northern Arizona have a resilient, accessible local food economy? CUPI participants will likely visit local farms and meet with farmers.
  • Northern Arizona Interfaith Council (NAIC): This pod is interested in supporting NAIC’s work around issues that local immigrant students face: what are the academic resources offered to immigrant students in high school, and how could they be better supported in order to attend college? NAIC also aims to identify universities and school districts that are addressing the needs of immigrant students. Students will work in collaboration with NAIC members.
  • Grand Canyon Trust: This pod researches water narratives related to the Colorado River in northern Arizona. This project will include opportunities for students to go into the field to gather data and conduct research. 

If you are interested, please fill out this short application.