Dr. Karletta Chief receives $3M NSF Grant: “Indigenous Food, Energy, and Water Security and Sovereignty”

A heartfelt congratulations to Dr. Karletta Chief for the recent award of a five-year $3M grant (09/01/17-08/30/22) from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop a diverse workforce with intercultural awareness and expertise in sustainable food, energy and water systems (FEWS). This award builds on the foundation that Chief has developed with tribal nations in Arizona as director of the University of Arizona Superfund Research Program Community Engagement Core.

Titled Indigenous Food, Energy, and Water Security and Sovereignty (Indigi-FEWSS), the goal of this project is to educate and engage students, with an emphasis on recruitment of first-generation and minority students seeking opportunities, to make a difference in developing communities. The project includes innovative approaches to integrate FEWS disciplines with indigenous knowledge and to work collaboratively with indigenous communities using a coupled natural human systems approach to design culturally acceptable FEWS technology.

The project will allow approximately 12 masters and 14 PhD trainees to major in traditional engineering and science disciplines while participating in the interdisciplinary Indigi-FEWSS program. The main training elements include a) major course work; b) training through internships; c) completion of FEWS minor; d) professional development and communications to prepare for internship, teaching, training, and immersion; e) immersion in indigenous communities to develop and teach FEWS-themed modules at Diné College (the oldest tribal college in the U.S.), Navajo Technical University (NTU), or at tribal workshops; f) designing and leading pilot projects for FEWS challenges facing the Navajo Nation; and g) interdisciplinary FEWS thesis or dissertation research. The minor will be available to all UA students. In addition to the NSF-funded trainees, we anticipate an additional 40 non-funded NSF trainees will participate in the FEWS minor. Finally, an additional 400 students will be impacted through participation in enriched courses.