Steven Semken

School of Earth and Space Exploration

Arizona State University at the Tempe Campus

Steven Semken is Professor of Geology and Education in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and a Senior Sustainability Scientist in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, both at Arizona State University.

Semken is an ethnogeologist and geoscience education researcher whose studies focus on the influences of place and culture on modes of inquiry, teaching, and learning in the Earth system sciences; and how place-based education can contribute to environmental and cultural sustainability, as well as greater equity and diversity in the geoscience community. Semken’s research is largely situated in the American Southwest, where he has worked with Native American and Hispanic/Latino/Chicano communities for three decades. He was a faculty member at the tribal college of the Navajo Nation for 15 years before joining Arizona State University. Semken earned Ph.D. and S.B. degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a M.S. degree from the University of California, Los Angeles; and he is also a Certified Interpretive Guide. Semken served as a Past-President and Distinguished Speaker of the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, and is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America. He has been recognized with the highest awards for natural-science teaching at ASU, Diné College, and MIT. 

Project Leader, Webinar Leader, Workshop Leader, Website Contributor

Project Leader

Keyah Math Project part of Keyah Math
The Keyah Math Project has developed a series of versatile online activities in mathematical geoscience, using the natural and cultural landscapes of the Southwest United States as context and setting.

Website Content Contributions

Activities (14)

Power Source part of Energy:Energy Activities
In this lesson-opening activity, students or groups are tasked to make concept sketches that track the source of electrical power as far back as they can conceive. The concept sketches reveal students' prior ...

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Course (1)

Earth Science in Arizona and the Southwest part of Integrate:Workshops and Webinars:Systems, Society, Sustainability and the Geosciences:Courses
ESAS is a place-based course in which students apply Earth system sciences to interpret the rocks, landscapes, geologic history, climate, resources, and natural hazards of Arizona and the surrounding ...

Essays (4)

Copper Triangle Pilot Project: Enhancing Opportunities for Geoscience Studies and Careers in a Culturally Diverse, Underserved Rural Mining Area part of Integrate:Workshops and Webinars:Broadening Access to the Earth and Environmental Sciences:Essays
Steven Semken, Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University at the Tempe Campus The Copper Triangle Pilot Project (CTPP) is an NSF Opportunities for Enhancing Diversity grant project (GEO-1108044) ...

Conference Presentations (4)

Place-Based and Culturally Valid Geoscience Curriculum and Assessment Development part of Rendezvous 2015:Program:Abstracts
Place-based (PB) methods of teaching geoscience leverage sense of place (meanings and attachments affixed to places) of students and instructors, as they are situated in surrounding environments and landscapes, ...

Other Contributions (9)

Research on Instructional Strategies to Improve Geoscience Learning in Different Settings and with Different Technologies part of NAGT:Geoscience Education Research:Community Framework for GER:Instructional Strategies
Download a pdf of this chapterSteven Semken, Arizona State University; Juk Bhattacharyya, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater; Don Duggan-Haas, Paleontological Research Institution; Amy Pallant, The Concord ...


Member of the National Association of Geoscience Teachers
Southwest Section, Geoscience Education Research Division, Teacher Education Division

Workshop Leader

Workshop Participant (14 workshops)

Webinar Leader

Webinar Participant