Community-University Public Inquiry
CUPI is a collaborative research program at NAU that aims to give undergraduate students research experience and leadership skills through applied community inquiry while focusing on addressing various community partners’ identified research needs. The program brings together multiple small groups (or “pods”) each comprised of undergraduate students from different disciplines, graduate student facilitators, a faculty advisor, and a community partner. These undergraduate students receive independent research credits that can be applied toward their major, while graduate students gain valuable mentoring experience, which some link to their thesis or final project.
Through CUPI, students have the opportunity to:
- Build leadership, collaboration, and research skills
- Select and work with a small interdisciplinary “pod” of upper-level undergraduate students, two graduate students, and a faculty advisor
- Help design and conduct research projects for a community partner
- Receive independent research credits
- Increase undergraduate applied and interdisciplinary research at NAU
- Engage students in issues relevant to Northern Arizona communities while also increasing partnerships between the university and these communities
- 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
Students have the opportunity to select the pod they would like to work with. As community-based research is dynamic and ever-changing, these research partnerships do shift from year to year. The pods we are currently offering include:
Grand Canyon Trust Pod
This pod researches environmental and social issues of the Grand Canyon region and Colorado Plateau. Topics are approached through how they relate to water, public lands, and indigenous lands. This project includes opportunities for students to go on field trips throughout the Grand Canyon region.
Northern Arizona Interfaith Council
NAIC works to build civic engagement to help support immigrant families. Students in this pod work with NAIC to engage educators in Flagstaff Unified School District on supporting immigrant students. They conduct research for educational equity for Dreamers and immigrant students.
Arts & Social Justice
Students will work with local musician and artist Ed Kabotie on issues related to the indigenous historical, social, and cultural context of the Colorado Plateau. Centering around Rumble on the Mountain (an annual event that features music, dance, film, and lectures), students will engage in research that focuses on the complex issues connected with the Colorado Plateau.
Community Public Health
This pod has two possible research directions. One builds on research on the health impacts of immigration enforcement. Participants will help administer surveys to Northern Arizona residents about their perceptions and lived experiences of race and immigration status. The second will be an assessment of the need for Community Health Workers in Northern Arizona.
Flagstaff Dark Skies
Working with the Flagstaff Dark Skies Coalition, students pursue research related to night studies, including human health impacts, concerns about crime, nocturnal ecosystems, cultural values, and resource values of dark skies.
The Hood Initiative
Student-led, the Hood Initiative creates a safe space for students who have been raised in and are managing systemic injustice (poverty, violence, addiction, and criminality). Through in-depth interviews, CUPI students study challenges of academic and personal identity Hood students face and how academic environments must adjust to acknowledge their existing expertise while supporting their academic success.
If you are interested in CUPI, please fill out this short application.