Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder

Tribal Climate Leaders Program

CIRES is excited to announce a unique funding opportunity for graduate students from tribal backgrounds who are interested in exploring the impacts of climate on natural and cultural resources and resilience.  

The North Central Climate Adaptation Science Center, NC CASC, co-directed at CU Boulder by Jennifer Balch of CIRES and the University of Colorado Boulder's Department of Geography and Robin O’Malley of the U.S. Geological Survey, is seeking applications from students affiliated with the 31 federally recognized tribes in the North Central region (North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado). Full funding is available for a two-year Master’s program for up to five eligible* students between Fall 2020 and 2022.

Over the two years, each student will take graduate courses in their chosen department and complete a Master’s thesis on their chosen research topic, which must be related to climate adaptation science. Possible departments for enrollment include, but are not limited to: Geography, Environmental Studies, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences, Geological Sciences, Environmental Engineering, and Civil, Environmental, & Architectural Engineering. During the program, the NC CASC staff and collaborators from the Great Plains Tribal Water Alliance (GPTWA), CU Boulder’s Center for Native American and Indigenous Studies (CNAIS), and the Student Academic Success Center (SASC) will offer supplemental activities, mentoring, support and professional development opportunities for the cohort of students.

If you are interested in applying for the Tribal Climate Leaders program, please call or email us to describe your experience and eligibility*. We will then help you identify and connect with potential advisors in the relevant departments at CU Boulder who are doing work that matches your own research interests and the mission of the NC CASC, one of eight regional centers created by the US Department of the Interior to help meet the changing needs of land and resource managers. By December 2019, you will prepare and submit an application to the department in which your potential advisor is located. Application deadlines vary by department and most range from December 1-30; please contact us well in advance so that we can assist with all the steps in the process and ensure that you tailor your application appropriately for the Tribal Climate Leaders program. 

*Eligibility: Applicants must be enrolled members, or descendants of enrolled members, of a federally recognized American Indian Tribe in the NC CASC Region (SD, ND, KS, NE, MT, WY, CO). Applicants will provide enrollment documents and/or a copy of birth certificate(s) showing descendancy from an enrolled citizen. Applicants may also, instead, provide a copy of their Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood (CDIB) card. Please contact us if you have questions about your tribal affiliation and eligibility. Applicants must also have completed a Bachelor’s degree, be able to provide the materials required by the Graduate Admissions process at CU Boulder (e.g. GRE scores, transcripts, application essays and letters of recommendation), and be ready to focus their graduate studies on topics related to climate adaptation science. 

CIRES is a partnership of NOAA and CU Boulder.

Banner image by Jesse Varner, modified by AzaToth, CC BY-SA 2.5.


Jenny Briggs
University of Colorado Boulder Office of Outreach & Engagement
James Rattling Leaf, Sr.
Stefan Tangen
Tribal Liaison, Great Plains Tribal Water Alliance & NC CASC

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