I advise students in the following programs: Learning Sciences and Human Development (Educational Psychology), Science Education, and Teacher Education. I am an affiliate faculty of Education, Equity, and Society. I am also affiliated faculty with American Indian Studies.

I am engaged in three primary lines of work, including: 1) the study of learning and development in and across everyday contexts using interdisciplinary approaches and methods including experimental cognitive studies, field studies, ethnography, and indigenous and critical methodologies, 2) design research – in my case community based design research – that builds science learning environments from Indigenous epistemologies (Cajete, 1999); and as a result of 2, 3) the study of child, family and teacher learning and practice in novel environments. In strand 1, I have been conducting research to uncover the ways in which cultural differences in sense-making, of which issues of epistemology are central, in the natural world unfold. For example, I have been conducting cognitive studies of peoples mental models of the natural world across development (3 year olds to adults) and developing ethnographies and quasi-experimental studies of children and families practices focused on and in primarily outdoor settings. In complement to these studies in strands 2 & 3 of my research, I have been focused on developing science learning environments with parents, communities, teachers and other professionals that open intellectual spaces in science education that facilitate deep exploration and imaginings of scientific phenomena, resource community driven goals of cultural vitality and support mastery of currently privileged sciences. This work includes developing curricula, refining high leverage instructional practices, and studying student and teacher learning and instructional practice in learning environments that enable positive identity development and generative intellectual engagement for Indigenous students and other students historically placed as risk.

Through all of my work I am interested in improving the quality of life and educational opportunities for youth, families and communities historically disadvantaged by education, with a central focus on Indigenous peoples and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) education. Despite varied efforts, the field still struggles to create robust, systemic forms of education that engage non-dominant students in meaningful learning, i.e., as concerned makers of knowledge and actors in the world.  Calls for transformative change (e.g. Lee, 2008), have suggested careful reworking of the conceptual, epistemological, and sociocultural foundations that guide calls to action, including the theories of learning, teaching, and development on which they are based and that there is a need to study and build learning environments from the deep cultural ecologies of children, families, and communities. Towards these ends, my scholarship investigates the ways in which culture – understood as diverse repertoires of practice individuals and community engage in (e.g. Cole, 1996; Lee, 2004; Guiterrez & Rogoff; 2004; Nasir et. al, 2006) – and issues of epistemology (e.g. Hammer & Elby, 2004) impact cognition, development, teaching and learning with a particular focus on meanings of and phenomena in the natural world. I conceptualize epistemology as those beliefs, values, and practices about knowledge, knowledge construction, and enacting knowing that are explicitly and implicitly brought to life, carried by, and learned in our day-to-day practices, across the varied contexts that individuals and communities navigate throughout the course of their days, lives, and over time. These include but are not limited to, our ways of making sense of experiences, exploring ideas, explaining and narrating phenomena, even in the languages we speak to do this, and taking actions in the world. Across my research, teaching, and service I aim to integrate and build capacity at various levels to transform the status quo - this is akin to organizational and systems learning. Remediating the long and incredibly detrimental history of both education and research in tribal communities is critical. Utilizing community based, participatory action, and decolonizing methodologies is fundamentally necessary for transformative work to occur. My work aims to continue to work with and expand these methodologies.


Ph.D. Northwestern University, 2009
Post-Doctorate, Cheche Konnen Center, TERC


• Teaching for Learning (Teacher Education Classes)
• Design Based Research Methods Part 1 & Part 2 (with Phil Bell)
• Culture, Learning, and Development
• Teaching Science with Indigenous Students, Families and Communities
• Indigenous Pedagogies
• Place Based Education: Meanings of Land, Culture, and Race in the Natural World
• Ethnographic Methods

• Community Based Methodologies


Current Projects

Culture, Learning, Human Development, and Science Education.

  • Learning in Places: Design research projet focsued on K-3 field based science eduation and the development of outdoor science learning environments. Co-PIs Carrie Tzou, UW-Bothell: Mary Margret Welch, Seattle Public Schools; Sharon Siehl, Tilth Alliance. 
  • Complex Ecological Systems and Indigenous Ways of Knowing: Communtiy Based Design resarch projet in Seattle and Chicago urban Native communities. Co-PI: Doug Medin
  • Family Robotics Backpacks: Design research project in partnership with Seattle Public Libraries and Communtiy Based Organizations. PI: Carrie Tzou, Co-PI: Phil Bell, Partners: Seattle Public Libraries

Teacher learning and development.

  • Native Education Certificate program. Comprehensive hybrid on-line professional devleopment program for in-service and pre-service educators.

Community/Family/Organizational learning and change.

  • Transforming the Field of Family Engagement: Redesigning Research, Measures and Practice for Equity in Education. Project is focused on expanding an equity orientated framework, high leverage practices, and measures for family leadership and engagement. Funded by the Kellogg Foundation.

Select Previous Projects

Culture, Learning, Human Development, and Science Education.

  • Expansive Meanings and Makings in ArtScience. Design research project to explore relationships between the arts and science learning focused on climate change and the human microbiome. CO-PIS Beth Warren and Ann Rosebery. Community Partner Fern Renville and Red Eagle Soaring. Funded by the National Science Foundation.
  • Collaborative Research: Cultural Epistemologies and Science-related Practices: Living and Learning in Relationships. Project is examining the role of culture and associated epistemological orientations in the development of knowledge and reasoning about the natural world and developing early science instructional practices, conducting professional devleopment, and studying implementation of novel instructional practices in two Indigenous communities. Community Partners: American Indian Center of Chicago and the Menominee Language and Culture Commission and Menominee Headstart. CO-PIs: Douglas Medin, Sandra Waxman. Funded by the National Science Foundation.
  • Collaborative Research: Culturally Based Citizen Science: Rebuilding Relationships to Place. Project is examining the ways in which epistemological implications impact cognition and engagement in community based learning environments through the design and study of community based citizen science projects that support Indigenous ways of knowing and scientific ways of knowing across age cohorts in two Indigenous communities. Community Partners: American Indian Center of Chicago and the Menominee Language and Culture Commission. CO-PIs: Douglas Medin, Karen Washinawatok. Funded by the National Science Foundation.
  • PROJECT WEBSITE: livinginrelationships.wordpress.com

Teacher learning and development.

  • Future Native Teachers Initiatives. Research on attitudes, interest, and views about teaching with prospective Native teachers and current Native teachers. In collabroation with the WEA.

Community/Family/Organizational learning and change.

  • Building Capacity & Cultivating Innovation: Learning Agendas in Native Education. Project investigates organizational learning (development of learning agendas) across educational organizations focused on Native youth. Funded by the Gates Foundation.

Features in the Media

Cool story about our design work in community gardens!

NPR story about our work!


Featured by the National Center on Quality Teaching and Learning!


Honors and Awards

• American Education Research Association, Division K, Teaching and Teacher Education, Early Career Award, 2015

• American Education Research Association, Bobby Wright Award for Early Career Contributions to Research in Indigenous Education, 2015

• Outstanding Advising Award – University of Washington 2013

• Spencer Dissertation Fellowship 2004-06

• Cognitive Science Graduate Fellow for Interdisciplinary Research Projects 2003-2004

• Spencer Training Fellowship 2001-2003

Select Publications

(for a full list see CV)


Refereed Journal Articles

Marin, A. & Bang, M. (accepted). “Look it, this is how you know:” Family forest walks and knowledge building about the natural world. Cognition and Instruction.

Pugh, P., McGinty, M., Bang, M. (accepted). Relational Epistemologies in Land Based Learning Environments: Reasoning about Ecological Systems and Spatial Indexing in Motion. Culture Studies in Science Education.

Barajas, F. & Bang, M. (accepted). Towards Indigenous Making and Sharing. Equity and Excellence.

Bang, M, Marin, A. & Medin, D. (accepted). If Indigenous peoples stand with science, will science stand with us?. Daedalus: Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Philips, T., Bang, M. & Jackson, K. (accepted). Articulating the “how,” the “for what,” and the “for whom” in concert: A call to broaden the benchmarks of our scholarship. Cognition and Instruction.

Bang, M., Alfonso, J., Faber, L., Marin, A., Marin, M., Medin, D., Waxman, S., & Woodring, J. (accepted). Perspective Taking in Early Childhood Books: Implications for Early Science Learning. Culture Studies in Science Education.

Medin, D., ojalehto, b., Marin, A., & Bang, M. (2017). Systems of (non-) diversity. Nature Human Behaviour, 1, 0088.

Washinawatok, K., Rasmussen, C., Bang, M., Medin, D., Woodring, J., Waxman, S., Marin, A., Gurneau, J., & Faber, L. (2017). Children’s Play with a Forest Diorama as a Window into Ecological Cognition. Journal of Cognition and Development.

Philip, T., Vossoughi, S., Bang, M., Zavala, M., & Jurrow, S. (2017).  The Role of the Learning Sciences in a New Era of US Nationalism. Cognition and Instruction, 35 (2).

Bang, M., & Vossoughi, S. (2016). Participatory Design Research and Educational Justice: Studying Learning and Relations Within Social Change Making. Cognition and Instruction, 34(3), 173-193.

Ishimaru, A. M., Barajas-López, F., & Bang, M. (2015). Centering Family Knowledge to Develop Children’s Empowered Mathematics Identities. Journal of Family Diversity in Education, 1(4), 1-21.

Bang, M. (2015). Culture, learning, and development about the natural world: Advances facilitated by situative perspectives. Educational Psychologist, 50(3), 220-233.

Bang, M., Faber, L., Gurneau, J., Marin, A., & Soto, C. (2015). Community Based Design Research: Learning Across Generations and Strategic Transformations of Institutional Relations Towards Axiological Innovations. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 1-14.

McGinty, M., & Bang, M. (2015). Narratives of dynamic lands: science education, indigenous knowledge and possible futures. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 1-5.

Bang, M. & Marin, A. (2015). Nature-Culture Constructs in Science Learning: Human/non-human agency and intentionality. Journal for Research in Science Teaching, 52(4), 530-544.

Medin, D. & Bang, M. (2014). The Cultural Side of Science Communication. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(4), 13621-13626.

Bang, M., Curley, L., Kessel, A., Marin, A., & Suzokovich, E. (2014). Muskrat Theories, Tobacco in the Streets, and Living Chicago as Indigenous Lands. Environmental Education Research, 19 (1).

Bang, M., Warren, B., Rosebery, A. S., & Medin, D. (2013). Desettling expectations in science education. Human Development, 55(5-6), 302-318.

Bang, M, Marin, A., Faber, L., & Suzokovich, E. (2013). Repatriating Indigenous Technologies in an Urban Indian Community Context. Urban Education.

Dehghani, M., Bang, M., Marin, A., Medin, D., & Leddon, E. (2013). Implicit Epistemologies in Text in Children’s Books:  Native and Non-Native Authored Books. International Journal of Science Education.

Hermes, M., Bang, M., & Marin, A. (2012). Designing Indigenous Language Revitalization. Harvard Educational Review, 82(3), 381-402.

Bang, M., & Medin, D. (2010). Cultural processes in science education: Supporting the navigation of multiple epistemologies. Science Education, 94(6), 1008-1026.

Bang, M., Medin,D., and Cajete,G., (2009). Improving Science Education for Native Students: Teaching Place Through Community. Sacnas News, 12(1), 8‐10.

Bang, M., Medin, D. L., & Atran, S. (2007). Cultural mosaics and mental models of nature. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104(35), 13868-13874.



Medin, D.L. & Bang, M. (2014). Who’s asking?: Native Science, Western Science and Science Education. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.


Book Chapters

Bang, M., Nolan, C. & Ishimaru, A. (in press). Engaging Native Families. To appear in: McWayne, C., Doucet, F., & Sheridan, S. (eds.) Research on Family-School Partnerships: Ethnocultural Diversity and the Home-to-School Link. Springer.

Barajas-López, F. & Bang, M.  (in press). Towards Indigenous Making and Sharing: Implications for Mathematics Learning. Chapter in Annual Perspectives in Mathematics Education (APME): Rehumanizing Mathematics for Students who are Black, Indigenous, and/or Latin@/x

Bang, M., Brown, B., Calabrese Barton, A., Rosebery, A., Warren, B. (2016). Reframing Diversity: Expanding Relationships between Students, Teachers, and Science Practices. In: Schwarz, C., Passmore, C., and Reiser, B. (Eds.), Moving Beyond “Knowing” Science to Making Sense of the World: Bringing Next Generation Science and Engineering Practices into our K-12 Classrooms. NSTA Press.

Bang, M. (2016). Making Human-Nature Relations: Settler-colonialism, Indigenous ways of knowing, and socio-cultural theories of learning. In: Esmonde, I. & Booker, A. (Eds.) Critical and socio-cultural theories of learning. Routledge Press.

Bang, M. (2016). Learning Gardens in an Urban Indigenous Community: Expanding the Scope of Learning. In: Brown, S. & McGregor, K. (eds.), Sowing Seeds in the City. Springer.

Bang, M. (2016). From Backyard Plots to Harvesting Beyond Borders: Native Perspectives on Gardening. In: Brown, S. & McGregor, K. (eds.), Sowing Seeds in the City. Springer.

Hermes, M. & Bang, M. (2014). Theory and Advocacy for Language Revitalization in the United States. In Handbook of Educational Linguistics. Routledge Press.

Abrams, E., Yore, L., Bang, M. Brayboy, B., Castagno, A., Kidmann, J., Huei, L., Villanueva, M., Wang, M., Webb, P., & Yen, C. (2014). Culturally Relevant Schooling in Science for Indigenous Learners Worldwide: Stressing the All in Science Literacy. In Handbook of Research on Science Education.

Medin, D., ojalehto, b., Waxman, S., & Bang, M. (2013). Relations: language, epistemologies, categories and concepts. To appear in: E. Margolis & S. Laurence, (Eds.), Concepts: New Directions. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Bang, M., Medin, D., Washinawatok, K., & Chapman, S. (2010). Innovations in culturally based science education through partnerships and community. In New Science of Learning (pp. 569-592). Springer New York.


Select Presentations

(For a full list see cv)

Bang, M. (2107, November). STEAM education towards socio-ecological justice. Teachers of Color and Allies Summit at the University of Colorado Boulder

Bang, M. (2017, November). Culture, Learning, and Science Education. Workshop on Science Investigations and Engineering Design Experiences in Grades 6-12. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
Bang, M. (2017, October). Indigenous STEAM education and the challenges of the 21st century. WSU Suwyn Family Lecture Series, Washington State University

Bang, M. (2017, October). Science Education that Matters: Nature-Culture Relations for the 21st Century. Stanford University.

Bang, M. (2017, September). Why does it matter? Shifting theoretical foundations and routine research practices. Sackler Symposium of the National Academies of Sciences.

Bang, M. (2017, June). Keynote: Towards Land/Water Based District Transformations. American Indian/Indigenous Teacher Education Conference. Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ.

Bang, M. (2017, May). Heterogeneity in Science Learning and Teaching. University of Texas, Austin.

Bang, M. (2014, August). Seeing and Engaging Indigenous Knowledge Systems in Early Childhood Science Education. Keynote address for the Washington State Summit on Tribal Early Childhood Education.

Bang, M. (2014, June). Expanding design research towards just futures: Culture, learning, community, land. Keynote address for the International Conference of the Learning Sciences.

Bang, M. Faber, L. Pochel, F. (2013). Living and Learning in Relationships: Science Education in Native Communities. National Congress of American Indians Tribal Leaders/Scholars Forum.

Bang, M (2012). Relational Epistemologies: Impacts on knowledge, meanings and constructions of the natural world. Association of Psychological Sciences. Invited Presidential Session. Chicago, IL.

Bang, M. (2012). Diverse Epistemologies: Cross-cultural impacts on meanings and constructions of the natural world. Physics Education Research Conference – Invited featured symposium.

Bang, M. (2012). Resisting the nature/Culture Bisection: Science Teaching and Learning in Indigenous Communities. Presented at the International Congress of Psychology Invited Session. Capetown, South Africa.