BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — American Indian studies programs at four universities in the Dakotas are collaborating to boost the quality of their offerings to students, raise awareness of Native American issues and help ensure their own futures.

The American Indian Studies-Great Plains Consortium was launched late last month by the University of North Dakota, the University of South Dakota, South Dakota State and Black Hills State. Officials also are looking to recruit other schools in the region, including tribal colleges.

Consortium participants hope that by collaborating they can offer students a broader and stronger education. Ways being considered include faculty exchanges, student conferences, cooperation in curriculum development and possibly even a collaborative master’s program.

Another goal is to increase student participation and faculty numbers, which could help ensure the long-term future of the programs.

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