Steven Semken

School of Earth and Space Exploration

Arizona State University at the Tempe Campus

Steven (Steve) Semken is Professor of Geology and Education in the School of Earth and Space Exploration, a Senior Global Futures Scientist in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory, and a faculty affiliate of the Center for Education through Exploration, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, and Global Drylands Center, all at Arizona State University.

Steve is an ethnogeologist and geoscience education researcher whose work integrates geology, geography, ethnography, education, and technology. He investigates the influences of sense of place, of culture, and of affect on modes of teaching, learning, and doing research in the Earth sciences in the real and virtual realms. Before joining ASU in 2003, he taught for 15 years at the Tribal College of the Diné (Navajo) Nation. Steve and his students work in the geologically and culturally diverse places of the American Southwest, Latin America, and the Caribbean; with particular attention to regional Indigenous and Hispanic/Latinx communities. The goal of his research group is to apply place-based and culturally informed methods of geoscience teaching to foster improved access to geoscience studies and careers for underrepresented people, environmental and cultural sustainability in underserved regions, and greater public Earth-science literacy.

Steve teaches ASU courses in regional geology and sustainability of the American Southwest, in field geology, in the history of the Earth and Solar System, and in research-based Earth and space science teaching methods. He regularly offers popular public geological talks, workshops, and field trips for outreach, education, and teacher professional development at National Parks, State Parks, and other public lands across Arizona, and also online. Steve teaches courses in Arizona and Southwest geology for the local community through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at ASU.

Steve is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America, a former Traveling Speaker for the EarthScope Program, and a Past-President and former Distinguished Speaker of the National Association of Geoscience Teachers. He was a Visiting Professor at the United States Air Force Academy in 1998. He has a Ph.D. (1989) and S.B. (1980) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an M.S. (1984) from the University of California, Los Angeles. Steve has been recognized with the highest awards for undergraduate science teaching at three different institutions where he has taught: Arizona State University, Dine College, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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 (2)

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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Multiple temporal scales of landscapes and landforms part of Rates and Time:Teaching Activities
This exercise provides students with a timescale and list of geomorphic landforms and processes. The activity requires that students utilize their knowledge of process-driving mechanisms to place landforms and ...

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 (6)

Geology, Society, and Justice: An undergraduate and graduate level place-based geoscience class to recenter land justice in geoscience education part of Earth Educators Rendezvous:Rendezvous 2024:Program:Poster Sessions:Monday Poster Session
Geoscience education has long been guided by formulaic objective truth-seeking and methodologies inherited from centuries of practice rooted in the Western worldview that continues to permeate and shape the role of ...

Other Contributions (12)

B.A. in Earth and Environmental Studies, Arizona State University at the Tempe Campus part of Strong Geoscience Departments:Degree Programs:Curriculum Profiles
Information for this profile was provided by Steven Semken, Arizona State University at the Tempe Campus. Information is also available on the program website. Students in this program are pursuing a bachelors ...


Workshop Leader (5 workshops)

Workshop Participant (28 workshops)

Webinar Leader

Webinar Participant (9 webinars)