Kent Kirkby

Kirkby Portrait

Kent Kirkby

Teaching Professor, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences


John T. Tate Hall
Room 385-16
116 Church Street Se
Minneapolis, MN 55455


PhD, 1994, University of Wisconsin - Madison

Research Interests

While a carbonate stratigrapher and sedimentologist in a previous life, since coming to the University of Minnesota, my activities have focused on teaching and educational research – exploring new and better ways to convey our knowledge of the Earth.  In particular, I am fascinated by the intersection of Earth processes and human society, how Earth processes affected human history and how human activities continue to dramatically affect our world.  As Earth scientists, we have a responsibility to convey our understanding of our world more effectively as many of the most pressing issues affecting future generations are tied to Earth processes.  

Consequently, my research explores ways to better communicate Earth and Environmental sciences and identify, challenge, and replace common Earth science misconceptions. My teaching relies heavily on some very traditional methods of instruction. For millennium, our ancestors gathered in smoke-filled lodges, huddled around campfires, or sat in the shade of trees to hear stories. Storytelling remains among the most effective, though frequently overlooked, mode of instruction. Distinct from lecture, storytelling is the art of weaving narratives that integrate course concepts with historical events. Consequently, my courses tend to be atypical science courses that spend considerable time exploring the roles natural disasters or climate change have played in shaping our history, or how so many of our legends have their origins in the Earth’s fossil record. 

Currently Teaching Courses
Earth and Its Environments
Dinosaurs and Our World
Introduction to Geology

Honors and Awards

2010, Horace T. Morse-Minnesota Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education

Selected Publications

Kirkby, K., Place in the City: Place-Based Learning in a Large Urban Undergraduate Geoscience Program, Journal of Geoscience Education, v. 62, n. 2, 2014