Development of our curriculum was funded by an NSF CCLI Phase 2 grant, "Collaborative Research: Native American Science Curriculum" DUE-0717828 awarded to the University of Kansas, Northern Arizona University and University of Alaska at Anchorage. Faculty from the University of New Mexico participated in this project as internal evaluators. The next phase of the project will be collaborative work between the four universities to explore classroom dynamics and innovative ways to create constructivist classrooms.

University of New Mexico’s (UNM) student demographics reflect New Mexico’s unique and rich cultural heritage, but also reveal its economic marginalization. (New Mexico ranks 47th out of 50 states in per capita income (2002 statistics) and 3rd in the nation in poverty.[1] New Mexico is an EPSCoR state with 1.8 million citizens, and is the first majority-minority state among the lower 48 states with a population that is 42% Hispanic, 11% Native American, 2% African American and 1% Other Minorities, for a total of 56% minority and 44%.[2] This diversity will be reflected in the participants in our program. The University of New Mexico Main Campus and Branches qualify as Institutions with High Hispanic Enrollment per the US Department of Education Accredited Postsecondary Education Minority Institution list.[3] UNM has nearly 27,000 students (plus 4,900 at four branch campuses). At UNM, there are 12 separate programs listed among the best of their kind nationally.[4] UNM is among the top 25 institutions nationwide for minority graduate student enrollment,[5] and for the number of both master’s degrees and doctoral degrees conferred upon Hispanics.[6] UNM also ranks fifth in the nation for the number of Hispanic faculty,[7] is the third ranking Hispanic Serving Institution for federal funding for STEM research (out of 300 HSI’s)[8]; and is the only Hispanic-Serving[9] that is also a Carnegie Doctoral/ Research Extensive University (formerly known as Research 1 Universities).[10] UNM serves a large number of Native American students among its six campus sites. Across all campuses a total of 12.2% of students are American Indian.[11] The Department of Biology comprises a highly integrated and interactive group of 38 tenure-track faculty who mentor more than 1300 undergraduate majors and over 100 graduate students; 40% of Biology undergraduate and 17% of UNM Biology graduate students are members of underrepresented groups.[12] The Museum of Southwestern Biology is a central focus within the department for research and teaching activities. The Department of Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies (LLSS) is primarily a graduate unit that serves the needs of the College of Education for research related coursework and has an international reputation for Indigenous language issues, American Indian education, Literacy, Educational Thought, and Bilingual Education. Approximately 100 students from across the university enroll in research courses and required research design courses with LLSS doctoral and masters level students each semester.


University of Alaska-Anchorage (UAA) is the largest university in Alaska, with over 17,000 students including about 1,800 (11%) AI/AN students.[13] UAA ranks 22nd nationally for graduating AI/AN baccalaureate students and 25th in biology/biomedical sciences.[14] UAA comprises campuses in five locations throughout south central Alaska, four of which are in remote areas where AN constitute most of the population and enrollment. The largest campus, in the city of Anchorage, hosts six academic schools and colleges. The four community campus locations have permanent faculty as well as administrative staff and facilities that allow the independent delivery of 2,200 credit course sections, and 63,000 student credit hours to rural communities which are predominantly Alaska Native. Direct services to AI/AN students include the Native Student Services office and the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program (ANSEP), an NSF funded program. In addition, there is an active program in Alaska Native Studies and programs in educational and training outreach in rural communities. Students and faculty from UAA will provide the proposed project with both expertise and direct connections to Alaska Native communities, which differ significantly from the legal and cultural framework found in the lower 48 states. They will participate in the program as auditors and co-developers of curricula, and assist in broadening the course contents to include perspectives from Alaskan Native communities.


Northern Arizona University (NAU) The mission of the Department of Applied Indigenous Studies at Northern Arizona University is to prepare students to assume leadership roles in Indigenous communities and institutions for the 21st century, providing students with instruction in tribal histories and cultures, federal policies, and contemporary reservation conditions. Students gain skills in academic areas of critical need, such as environmental and human health science, policy and management, cultural resource management and traditional knowledge, policy articulation and administration, and sustainable community development. Students have opportunities to work with both tribal nations  and national and international leadership programs as part of their internship experience. AIS graduates have returned to their communities to implement their new skills for nation building, others have applied their education and skills in working with indigenous communities managing tribally targeted programs and services in state and federal agencies, and many others pursue graduate studies in a variety of fields. NAU has a strong record of graduating large numbers of Native American/Alaskan Native and Hispanic/Latino students, despite having a relatively small total enrollment (17,529 in 2010). NAU ranks fourth in the nation for Native American Bachelor’s degrees in both education and the physical sciences, fifth for engineering and sixth for health professions. NAU also has an outstanding record of producing Native Americans with graduate degrees, being fourth in the nation for producing master’s degrees overall, first in the nation for master’s degrees in education, and 12th in the nation for graduating Native Americans with doctoral degrees.[15] The American Association of State Colleges and Universities identified NAU as one of eleven publicly funded institutions nationwide effective in graduating Latino students. The 2010 student population is diverse, with 965 American Indian/Alaska or Native and Hawaiian/Pacific Islander students (6%), 550 Black/African American (3%) and 2,180 Hispanic/Latino students (14%). [16]

             As part of its commitment to Native American education and outreach to tribal nations, NAU has launched the Native Roots, Native Futures campaign to raise $5 million[17]; this campaign has already resulted in the Native American Cultural Center, now under construction. This Center will be a focal point for the diverse traditions, perspectives and contributions of Native American culture on the NAU campus, and will welcome students, scholars, tribal communities, the university community and the general public, providing opportunities to engage with and learn from each other, housing activities that support student recruitment and retention. In 2004 NAU was chosen by the Arizona Board of Regents to manage the delivery of online programs by the state's three universities (NAU, Arizona State University and the University of Arizona). The e-Learning Center at NAU, with a staff of 40, provides help to faculty developing technology-enhanced coursework for online delivery and has provided training to participants in our NSF CCLI Phase 2 project.


The University of Kansas (KU) The KU principal investigator on the current proposal, Dr. Raymond Pierotti, served as PI on NSF grant DEB 93-17582, which was part of the initial Undergraduate Mentoring in Environmental Biology (UMEB) program; this grant was supplemented by a grant from the All Nations Alliance for Minority Participation (NSF). When Pierotti began this program there were no Native American students in ecology or environmentally oriented degree programs at KU. With UMEB support, Pierotti was able to change this by recruiting 25 Native American students, of whom 23 graduated with 4-year degrees in STEM majors. For this work, Pierotti was named Tribal College/University mentor of the year in 1998 by the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS). The mentoring program was continued with Pierotti as PI on a second UMEB (DEB 02-03404), which finished in 2007. All 22 students in the second UMEB graduated with 4-year degrees. All students in the overall programs have been American Indian/Alaska Native from over two-dozen Tribes. An innovative international exchange program funded by a supplement from NSF allowed Native American students to do projects in Russia with Indigenous Siberians and present research on uranium contamination on Tribal lands at the 20th Commemoration of the Chernobyl Catastrophe in Kyiv, Ukraine.

            Graduates from the UMEB program have been very successful; 21 have gone on to attend graduate school, eleven have already completed Master’s degrees and three are currently in PhD programs. Additionally, four students became teachers at Tribal Colleges or Universities (TCUs) or tribal high schools, and two went on to become STEM instructors at HINU. In addition to the mentoring program, Pierotti used this first UMEB to significantly increase Native student participation in the Sciences by developing a collaborative agreement between KU and HINU, which provides opportunities for the more than 1000 AI/AN students enrolled at the two institutions. Under the MOU students can take courses on either campus and receive tuition waivers and transfer of credits. As a large (over 25,000 students) Research I Public University, KU has state-of-the-art scientific laboratories and advanced coursework, made available to HINU students and staff through an MOU negotiated in 1992. To further integrate the environmental science programs on the two campuses, Drs. Pierotti (KU) and Dan Wildcat (HINU) developed a joint course, Native and Western Views of Nature, which is included in an advanced form within our curriculum and is now taught in a lower division course by Dr. Wildcat as part of the HINU curriculum. Many HINU graduates now move into Masters and Doctoral programs at KU, facilitated by an arrangement that any HINU student is accepted into the programs at KU as residents eligible for in-state tuition, regardless of their length of residency in Kansas.

[2] UNM Office of Institutional Research, 2009-2010. UNM Factbook. University of New Mexico: Albuquerque, NM

[4] U.S. News and World Report, April 2005.

[5] 1,246 or almost one third of the total graduate enrollment of 3,915.

[6] April 22, 2005, issue of Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education, NCES, Digest of Educational Statistics, 2002-03.

[7] Black Issues in Higher Education, 2000 17: 24.

[11] Office of Institutional Research, 2009.

[14] Diverse: Issues in Higher Education. 2006. Top 100 degree producers 2006 Biological and Biomedical Sciences- Native American Baccalaureates. Top100 degree producers 2006 all disciplines combined- Native Americans

[15] The rankings are produced by Diverse Issues in Higher Education magazine’s annual report which recognizes institutions that confer the largest number of degrees to minority students based on the 2008-09 academic school year.