GIDP Indige-FEWS PhD Minor

Indigenous Food, Energy, and Water Systems
Graduate Interdisciplinary PhD Minor Program

The University of Arizona Graduate College sponsors several Graduate Interdisciplinary Programs (GIDP) in addition to the many interdisciplinary possibilities available through regular graduate degree programs. GIDPs transcend departmental boundaries by facilitating cutting edge teaching and research at the nexus of traditional disciplines. The high value placed on interdisciplinary research and education is indicative of The University of Arizona's enthusiasm and commitment to fostering innovation and creativity among its faculty and students.

GIDP PhD Minor in Indigenous Food, Energy, and Water Systems

The Indige-FEWS GIDP PhD Minor integrates engineering and science disciplines with humanities to fully prepare students for the interdisciplinary collaboration required to tackle the FEWS challenges of Indigenous communities with intercultural awareness.

The purpose of the Indigenous Food, Energy, and Water Systems (Indige-FEWS) GIDP PhD Minor is to prepare students through research and scholarship to develop novel and sustainable solutions to real-world Food, Energy, and Water Systems (FEWS) challenges facing Indigenous communities. The GIDP PhD Minor coursework integrates fundamentals of systems thinking with cross-disciplinary pedagogy to support discovery and development of materials, technologies and unit operations for fit-for-purpose water systems and controlled environment agriculture (CEA) systems. Graduates will be prepared to integrate engineering solutions with the policies, decision-making and public acceptance of Indigenous communities, and will be grounded by an understanding of Indigenous societies, their governance and culture, and the ability to work effectively in these contexts.

Graduates will be uniquely positioned to work with Indigenous communities to address food, energy, and water challenges with a systems approach and a collaborative process.

Students will earn 13 credit hours to satisfy the Minor, one Indigenous research and outreach ethics seminar (1 credit unit) and one course from each of four "blocks": Systems (3 credit units), Fundamentals (3 credit units), Society (3 credit units), and Unit Operations (3 credit units). Students may take these courses in any order.

Courses are offered by the following departments: Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering, American Indian Studies, Chemical & Environmental Engineering, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Environmental Sciences, Geography, Materials Science & Engineering, and Optical Sciences.

Faculty Committee Members for the Minor may be found at the GIDP Indige-FEWS site here: Prospective students MUST email the preferred Minor Faculty Committee Member to request participation on the dissertation committee and to discuss the program prior to declaring the Minor in GradPath.

The Indige-FEWS GIDP PhD Minor program was created thanks to the funding from the NSF-NRT Indige-FEWSS grant (DGE1735173) but is its own free-standing program that is permanently established.  This program is one of the many GIDPs at the University of Arizona.

Minor Requirements

Read the Indige-FEWS Handbook - Link inactive

Minimum credit hours for PhD Minor: 13

Required Courses: 5 courses

Students will complete the Seminar and one course each from Block 1, Block 2, Block 3 and Block 4. Courses may be taken in any order. 

Seminar: Indigenous research and outreach ethics

  • ENVS 696N - Indigenous Food, Energy, & Water Security and Sovereignty Seminar (Independent Study, 1 unit)

Block 1: Systems

  • ABE 579 - Applied Instrumentation for Controlled Environment Agriculture (Spring, 3 units)
  • ABE 582 - Integrated Engineered Solutions in the Food-Water-Energy Nexus (Spring, 3 units)
  • ENVS 596B - Water Policy in Arizona and Semi-Arid Regions (Spring, 3 units)
  • GEOG 596J - Water Management and Policy: The Water-Energy-Food Nexus (Fall & Spring, 3 units)

Block 2: Fundamentals

  • ECE/OPTI 514A - Photovoltaic Solar Energy Systems (Spring, 3 units)
  • ECE/MSE/OPTI 534 - Advanced Topics in Optical and Electronic Materials (Spring, even years only, 3 units) 
  • MSE 530 - Organic Electronic Materials and Devices (Fall, 3 units)
  • MSE 550 - Materials Selection for the Environment (Spring, 3 units)

Block 3: Society

  • AIS 526A - Principles of Indigenous Economics (Fall & Spring, 3 units)
  • AIS 531A - Traditional Ecological Knowledge (Fall, 3 units)
  • AIS 541A - Natural Resource Management in Native Communities (Fall & Spring, 3 units) 

Block 4 - Unit Operations  

  • CHEE 514 - Sustainable Water Supplies for Remote Communities (Spring, 3 units)

Declaring the minor

Students considering the Indige-FEWS minor should speak with their academic advisor to evaluate how this program aligns with their major coursework and research goals and timelines. Students must have a GIDP PhD Minor Faculty Committee Member on their dissertation committee.

Prospective students must submit an Intention Form to the Indige-FEWS program coordinator and request participation of the preferred Minor Faculty Committee Member prior to declaring the Minor in GradPath. Once the GIDP Executive Committee and preferred Minor Faculty Committee Member approve the student, the Intention Form will be authorized and returned to the student, who may then include the Minor in the Plan of Study.

Download the Intention Form

Requesting a Course Substitution

Students who have declared the Minor may request a course substitution for one of the required courses by submitting a Request Form to the program coordinator. The request form must be submitted with a statement of justification (why the substitution is requested), the syllabus from the required course and the syllabus from the substitute course. Requests must be authorized by the Minor Faculty Committee Member and will be reviewed by the GIDP Executive Committee. If approved, the Request Form will be authorized and returned to the student.

Download the Request Form

For more information or to submit the Intention Form and/or Request Form, email the program coordinator, Cara Duncan Shopa, at and cc IRes Program Coordinator Bernice Rodriguez at

Program Bylaws with Faculty Membership Criteria 

Membership in the Graduate Interdisciplinary Program (GIDP) in Indigenous Food, Energy, and Water Systems (Indige-FEWS) is open to faculty at the University of Arizona who are willing to make a commitment to the GIDP and interdisciplinary approaches. The commitment to the Indige-FEWS GIDP should be expressed through participation in developing and maintaining the GIDP, teaching courses, advising students, or supporting the program for the GIDP.

The Indige-FEWS PhD Minor Articles and Bylaws, operating procedures, and policies of the Program can be found attached in this document as well.

Program Bylaws & Faculty Membership Criteria