Place-based Geoscience Teaching in Support of Sustainability

Wednesday 1:30pm-4:00pm Gordon: Symphony Meeting Room
Afternoon Mini Workshop


Steven Semken, Arizona State University at the Tempe Campus

Places are made by people. Place-based teaching draws on the importance of places to people, as context for locally situated geoscientific inquiry and to promote local environmental and cultural sustainability. This collaborative workshop is intended to facilitate the effective use of the place-based modality and the sense of place by formal and informal geoscience educators at all levels. Each participant should have in mind a specific example of a course, workshop, learning unit, activity, or assessment tool that he or she would like to reconceive and apply in a locally place-based way.


  • Review the essential characteristics of place, sense of place, and place-based teaching.
  • Identify opportunities to introduce or increase use of the place-based modality in your teaching.
  • Outline and review place-based curriculum and assessment items for potential use.
  • Discuss the relevance of place-based teaching and learning to environmental and cultural sustainability of our home places.


All times are approximate.

1:30 Welcome, meet, and greet.

1:45 Introduction to place and sense of place.

2:00 Activity: Senses of the places where we teach

Participants will create and share illustrative depictions of the place(s) where they teach, with the objective of evoking a rich sense of place.

2:30 Discussion of the essential characteristics of place-based teaching and assessment.

2:45 Activity: Teaching and assessing in a place-based way

Participants will consider how to apply sense of place and principles of place-based teaching to a specific curriculum or assessment item, and create brief presentations for group discussion.

3:30 Break

3:40 Discussion of the application of place-based teaching to local issues of environmental and cultural sustainability and resilience.

3:55 Workshop evaluation

4:00 Adjourn


Sense of Place and Place-Based Introductory Geoscience Teaching for American Indian and Alaska Native Undergraduates (Semken, 2005)

Teaching Geoscience in the Context of Culture and Place (Apple, Lemus, & Semken, 2014)

Place-Based Teaching: 40 Selected References (Acrobat (PDF) 55kB Jul15 16)

Place-Based Geoscience Teaching Mini-Workshop Slide Set (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 119.3MB Jul20 16)