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:
- Jabulani School Simulation (JASS): This pod works with the College of Education to help create an interactive, online interface that future educators will use to become prepared to work with students from a diverse range of backgrounds. CUPI participants will apply theoretical frameworks, backed by research, to understand the perspectives of administrators, teachers, parents, and students in the Flagstaff Unified School District. They use this information to create realistic student profiles for education students to consider in creating effective teaching strategies.
- Northern Arizona Interfaith Council (NAIC): This pod supports NAIC’s work with local public schools to understand challenges that immigrant students and families face. The pod develops and delivers training to FUSD staff and families about support for immigrant students. They also research academic resources for immigrant students and how they could be better supported to attend college.
- Grand Canyon Trust (GCT): Students in this pod research environmental and social issues of the Grand Canyon region and Colorado Plateau, especially related to water, public lands, and indigenous lands. Current issues researched include remediation following coal plant closures, funding opportunities to support post-coal research, and indigenous water rights in the Flagstaff region.
- Arts & Social Justice: Students will collaborate with a local artist whose work centers on arts-based community building and activism. This pod uses arts-based research methodologies to develop social justice projects focusing on indigenous perspectives of the Colorado Plateau.
- The Hood Initiative: The Hood Initiative is a student-initiated and student-led organization that offers a safe space for students who have been raised in and are continuously managing systemic injustice (poverty, violence, drugs, addiction, and criminality). Its purpose is to provide formal and informal support without judgement or fear. Current members of the Initiative have said, “We recognize the hood as a place where character is built and resilience is earned. The hood made us who we are but will not determine where we end up. We embody taking care of one another on our road to academic and life achievement.” Through in-depth interviews, CUPI students study the unique 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. Currently, this pod is open only to those who identify as Hood students.
If you are interested in CUPI, please fill out this short application.