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Cultivating Indigenous Research Communities for Leadership in Education and STEM (CIRCLES)

Cultivating Indigenous Research Communities for Leadership in Education and STEM at University of Idaho focuses on creating the conditions in which Indigenous STEM is recognized within academic institutions. CIRCLES seeks to cultivate leaders and teachers able to engage Indigenous STEM in integrated and holistic ways within formal and non-formal contexts of learning. CIRCLES works to engage faculty and institutions understand and contribute to Tribal Nation building efforts in all STEM areas. To create conditions where Indigenous STEM can thrive, CIRCLES Idaho: 

  1. is guided by an Advisory Committee of tribal representatives who have expertise in Indigenous education and university-tribal research partnerships.
  2. developed an interdisciplinary graduate certificate that supports interdisciplinary and Indigenous research, Certificate for Indigenous Research and Education.
  3. is developing a faculty Nation Building Institute for reciprocal University-Tribal Nation partnerships in research and education.
  4. is contributing to the direction of the Center for Indigenous Research and Education (CIRE), an institutional space for the sustained work realized in projects such as CIRCLES.

The U of I project funds graduate education for students seeking interdisciplinary degrees in STEM education. Researchers seek to understand how furthering critical conversations about the interdisciplinary nature of knowledge and our relationships with environments contribute to higher education re-thinking curriculum and faculty awareness of Native peoples and lands.

The University of Idaho works together with the CIRCLES project Alliance, a six states initiative consisting of Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. Formed in 2020 with support from NSF’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (#2038371) and INCLUDES programs (#2217344), the CIRCLES Alliance, through research and collaboration with tribal communities, aims to inform educational institutions and the NSF in Indigenous cultural understanding and humility and to shift approaches toward Indigenous education.

Questions? Contact us or see our FAQ below.


CIRCLES Program Eligibility

  • Are enrolled (or be eligible to enroll) in a master’s or doctorate program at the University of Idaho.
  • Be able to complete the 13 credit Indigenous Research and Education Certificate coursework alongside major area of study.
  • Priority selection will be given to American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, Indigenous, and historically underrepresented students.

The 13-credit certificate sequence prepares students to work and design at the intersections of natural resources, social and cultural well-being, and enhancing learning settings to address epistemological diversities. There is a need for increased graduate preparation to build capacity among both Tribal and non-Tribal citizens to develop an integrated understanding and application of Native American law, educational philosophies, and integrated natural resource management. This certificate will prepare Indigenous and non-Indigenous graduates to engage in research informed by Indigenous and relational methodologies that can assess and address contemporary social and environmental challenges.

To be eligible, applicants must be U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents.

Yes, students complete a 13-credit Certificate in Indigenous Research and Education (CIRE).

The time it takes to complete the certificate which is a sequence over 3 academic semesters. Preference is given to students who commit the full 4 academic semesters in two academic years.


If you’re interested in participating in CIRCLES, reach out to CIRCLES staff as the first step in your application process. We recommend contacting CIRCLES as soon as possible.

Step 1
Contact CIRCLES Coordinator by email (, or in-person (IRIC 311).

Step 2
Send a letter of interest and your resume or CV to Crissy Oliver ( CIRCLES is recruiting and accepting applications for Fall 2024 at this time.

Step 3
Complete and submit admission application to the University of Idaho with the College of Graduate Studies in your major degree program.

Step 4
Complete your FAFSA.

For more information or apply for aid, visit the University of Idaho financial aid page.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under cooperative agreement EES 2217344. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.