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:
Immigrant Youth Equity
Students in this pod work with the Northern Arizona Interfaith Council (NAIC), building civic engagement to help support immigrant families. Most of the work is focused on engaging educators in Flagstaff Unified School District on means of supporting immigrant students. Students in the pod conduct research and outreach for educational equity for Dreamers and immigrant students.
This interdisciplinary CUPI pod tackles some of the research needed to implement the Flagstaff Climate Action Plan. Climate action requires that we address social justice and sustainability, from both ideological and practical angles. Therefore, we are seeking students from a wide variety of interdisciplinary backgrounds for this research pod.
Rural Food Systems
Students work with a community partner, St. Mary’s Food Bank, that seeks to supply fresh produce and staple groceries to rural “food deserts” through regular food pantry distributions. Students with an interest in nutrition, food systems, communication, and social media are particularly needed for this pod. Travel to rural communities is required, as much of the research work has focused on surveying food pantry recipients and organizers. Students in this pod have also worked with NAU’s Nutrition program and external partners to develop culturally and nutritionally appropriate recipes for food pantry recipients.
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.