Northern Arizona University

Shining a Spotlight Sustainability & Access in Higher Education


While its peers to the south (University of Arizona and Arizona State University) may attract more attention, Northern Arizona University (NAU) based in Flagstaff is an institution with long-standing achievements in a number of critical arenas. These include a strong commitment to making higher education accessible to more students of varied backgrounds – as well as a commitment to scientific research and the many dimensions of sustainability. For more than five years, CooperKatz provided a range of support to the University to help it more powerfully amplify its mission and impact.


360º Sustainability & Personalized Learning

Our team first partnered with NAU on an in-depth consulting project to assess its external and internal communications capabilities. This process included immersion visits to campus, one-on-one interviews with multiple stakeholders and an analysis of all communications channels, strategies and structures.


Among our recommendations was the observation of a deep and multifaceted commitment to sustainability issues that pervaded NAU’s work and culture. This ranged from operations and infrastructure, to student life and environmental engagement, to curriculum, and especially to the world-class array of scientific research and innovation across multiple fields (biology, forestry, chemistry, anthropology, sociology, and more).


CooperKatz developed an overarching creative campaign titled “360º Sustainability” – speaking to the breadth and depth of the University’s engagement. Our goal was to promote NAU’s comprehensive commitment to sustainability issues while showcasing the expertise and ground-breaking work of NAU faculty and researchers.  Our efforts spanned a broad range of environmental sustainability topics such as climate change, wildfire / forest ecosystems and restoration, renewable energy and drought / water resources, as well as cultural sustainability issues related to Native American communities.


CooperKatz engaged a robust bench of faculty experts for media opportunities and contributed content development. The team secured coverage in national, top-tier and trade outlets including the Associated Press, Christian Science Monitor, CleanTechnica, ClimateWire, CNN, LiveScience, The Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, Reuters, Scientific American and TED Magazine. We developed content for owned, earned and social channels – and provided counsel on advertising and paid elements related to the campaign.


To support another long-standing NAU commitment – improving access to education for students of all backgrounds – CooperKatz was engaged to drive the communications strategy and external launch of a bold new degree-granting platform: NAU Personalized Learning.


This was one of the nation’s first subscription-based, self-paced, competency-based online platforms – allowing students to gain literal credit for competencies they already possessed, while advancing through online courses at their own pace to earn a bachelor’s degree. CooperKatz was successful in securing media opportunities and coverage for the nascent program in key higher education outlets, and assisted in developing contributed content for the program leaders. This set the stage for continued growth of the program.

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