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 Sustainability Scientist in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, and a faculty affiliate of the Center for Education through Exploration 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 Native American 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 regularly teaches ASU courses in regional geology and sustainability of the American Southwest, in field geology, and in Earth and space science teaching; and he is also very active in community education and outreach across Arizona.

Steve is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America, a recent EarthScope Speaker, and a Past-President and former Distinguished Speaker of the National Association of Geoscience Teachers. He has been a Visiting Professor at the United States Air Force Academy. 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 received the highest awards for undergraduate 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 (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 (6)

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 (11)

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 ...


Workshop Leader (4 workshops)

Workshop Participant (24 workshops)

Webinar Leader

Webinar Participant