Navajo pedagogy and earth systems

Steven Semken, Frank Morgan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Scopus citations


The Navajo interpretation of nature attributes geological change and equilibrium, and the sustainability of life in the surface environment, to dynamic processes of renewal driven by interactions between Nohosdzáán (Earth environment) and Yádilhil (Sky environment). An introductory physical-geology course for Navajo students at Navajo Community College incorporates this Navajo model within an Earth systems curriculum, wherein geological materials, landforms, processes of change, and Earth history are interpreted as the result of interacting endogenic (tectonic, magmatic) and exogenic (atmospheric, hydrospheric) processes. Second-order parallels between Navajo and "Western" (Euro-American) models of dynamic equilibrium can be employed to teach rock-cycle processes and other geochemical cycles. Use of Navajo and Euro-American sets of geologic concepts in concert is intended to enhance Navajo students' abilities to do science, to reinforce their understanding of their culture, and to foster appreciation and stewardship of their lands.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-112
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Geoscience Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1997
Externally publishedYes



  • Education - geoscience
  • Education - special clientele
  • Education - undergraduate
  • Geology - teaching and curriculum
  • Geology - women and minorities
  • Philosophy of science
  • Science

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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