University of Idaho Receives Grant to Research Indigenous-Based STEM Education
September 23, 2020
MOSCOW, Idaho — Sept. 23, 2020 — University of Idaho researchers and partner institutions have received a total of $739,619 in National Science Foundation collaborative research grants to address the under-representation of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) students in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines and workforce.
The Cultivating Indigenous Research Communities for Leadership in Education and STEM (CIRCLES) Alliance builds on existing partnerships with tribal communities and tribal colleges in six states in the western United States: Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. Together, the partners will develop a collective strategy for increasing the engagement, involvement and success of AI/AN students in STEM.
In addition, the award will allow the CIRCLES Alliance to partner with the larger community associated with the NSF’s Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science (INCLUDES)program, which strives to broaden participation of underrepresented groups in STEM.
The Idaho aspect of the research will focus on strengthening public education-tribal partnerships. The team will work to inform institutions of public education about the interests, innovations and priorities of tribal communities in promoting STEM learning. Specifically, this project will document experiential and Indigenous-based approaches to doing science from the perspective of tribal community members and tribal agencies.
“We are excited about the collaboration with local tribal communities. In particular, we are excited that universities and other western educational facilities are finally acknowledging what Indigenous people have known for so long: Humanity as a whole has an awesome responsibility and potential to utilize the knowledge of all cultures and communities in order to create a world that builds upon the strengths of different knowledge systems,” said Philip Stevens, assistant professor and director of American Indian Studies, Department of Sociology and Anthropology at U of I.
Through the CIRCLES Alliance, researchers will build on strong, existing partnerships with tribal communities and colleges to study promising practices and areas of greatest need in STEM education for AI/AN students. The project will look to develop AI/AN-based STEM education activities for K-12 and higher education students as well as become a model for partnering with tribal communities to advance Indigenous-based STEM education. Ultimately, the project aims to support tribal communities in producing a STEM-ready workforce to meet their communities’ economic development needs.
Stevens will serve as principal investigator (PI) for the Idaho portion of the alliance. Co-PIs include: Karla Eitel, associate research professor of place-based education and director of the McCall Field Campus; Vanessa Anthony-Stevens, assistant professor and director of the Indigenous Knowledge for Effective Education Program, Department of Curriculum and Instruction; and Sarah Penney, Education Outreach and Diversity program manager for Idaho NSF EPSCoR. Aaron Thomas, director of Indigenous Research and STEM Education and associate professor of chemistry at the University of Montana, will serve as the overall lead for the alliance.
This project was funded by the National Science Foundation under award 2038371. The total project funding is $76,051, of which 100% is the federal share.
Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Director of American Indian Studies
University of Idaho
Science and Content Writer
University of Idaho
About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, nine research and Extension centers, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to nearly 11,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky and Western Athletic conferences. Learn more at uidaho.edu