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Launched by The Leadership Institute at the Santa Fe Indian School, this Pueblo doctoral cohort is partnered with the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University (ASU). This project of doctoral education is housed within the existing core curriculum of Justice and Social Inquiry (JSI), which has recognized the LI goals of culturally-based capacity building on Pueblo Indian reservations in New Mexico with broader implications for other Indigenous communities nationally and internationally.
Over the past decade, with sustained funding relationships from the New Mexico State Department of Indian Affairs, local private, family, community and national foundations, The Leadership Institute (LI) has created a global model of Indigenous sustainability and community development. Recently recognized as one of the top five American Indian institutional programs in the U.S. by the The Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development Honoring Nations, the LI also maintains strong partnerships with Native Nations Institute (NNI), School for Advanced Research on the Human Experience (SAR) and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs at Princeton University. The LI is a well-established institution that over the past decade has convened 38 community-based Institutes bringing together New Mexico Native American community members, policymakers and experts to discuss the impact of the last 100 years of federal Indian policies on Pueblo core values (See Figure 1). Based on needs identified from these gatherings, the doctoral concept has emerged as a program to address capacity building and the integration of formally-educated, young Pueblo professionals into their communities to engage in work that a) leverages the talents of Pueblo communities, b) is socially transformative, and c) engages in research and practice that serve the needs of Pueblo communities.
As a result of the LI Institutes, ten critical areas of Pueblo need have been identified by Pueblo leaders, educators, community workers, young professionals and students—Native language, Land and cultural resource protection, Environment, Education, Governance, Health, Art, Community and economic development Families and communities, Law and jurisprudence. These individual student interests will be merged with the Indigenous Justice strands and curriculum requirements of the JSI Ph.D. program. As such, these ten areas and JSI core courses will provide focus areas of study for members of the Pueblo doctoral cohort. Not every cohort member will focus on all ten. Rather, using the foundations of Justice and Social Inquiry, students will focus on one to two of these areas as part of their doctoral studies, and with a grounding in studies of social transformation. The emphasis in this cohort approach is that the cohort as a collective will produce a formidable alliance around these ten critical issues.
Under the goal of capacity building, the mission of The Leadership Institute and Santa Fe Indian School partnership with ASU’s School of Social Transformation (SST) and other partner schools within ASU will be to prepare and produce skilled and conscientious educator-researcher-scholars in multiple concentrations who will ultimately strengthen the network of Pueblo professionals, educational practitioners and community leaders to address the pressing and acute educational and community needs of New Mexico’s Indigenous populations. Additionally, the realization of this cohort will have design implications for building future cohorts from Arizona and other Indigenous groups in the U.S., thus marking ASU as the only university with an Indigenous capacity building vision partnered with Indigenous communities via doctoral cohorts with a socially transformative mission.