Indira Phukan is a PhD candidate in the Graduate School of Education (Curriculum and Teacher Education, Science Education) and recently completed her MS in the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources. She uses ethnographic methods to research issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion through the lens of environmental and science education spaces, behavioral decision-making and the environmental movement. Her work examines the societal construction of the mainstream environmental movement, what it means to be an environmentalist, what kinds of labels we assign to environmentalism, and how we educate students about the environment and environmentalism. Specifically, she studies the language used in educational spaces to construct a movement that often excludes students from diverse backgrounds. Her research helps to illuminate ways that students have been systematically and institutionally excluded, and suggests ways the we can better include more voices, thus strengthening environmental education programs and the overall environmental movement.

While at Stanford, Indira has worked with Dr. Nicole Ardoin's Social Ecology Lab on several research projects. On the Environmental Learning in the Bay Area project, Indira examined community listening sessions and interviews to identity barriers to sustainability in diverse communities. She has also worked closely with a local environmental education non-profit to examine teaching best practices and evaluation methods. Most recently, she is working as a research assistant on an NSF-funded project that is examining coastal fog upwelling and its impact on both coastal redwood ecosystems and how people interact with and develop attachments to the iconic species. She has also worked as an independent consultant to develop, evaluate, and critique curriculum. She is trained in qualitative and quantitative methods such as surveys, design-thinking workshops, focus groups, interviews, observations, ethnographies, paired t-tests, ANOVAS, multivariate regression, interaction models, factor analysis, and systematic literature reviews.

While at Stanford, she has also developed and taught her own community-based course on environmental justice. She has received the Haas Center's Graduate Public Service Fellowship, the Clayman Institute's Women's Voice and Influence Fellowship, the Woods' Institute Rising Environmental Leadership Fellowship, and the Gerald J. Lieberman Leadership Fellowship.

Before Stanford, Indira received her BA degree in history and anthropology from Harvard University. She also worked as an environmental educator in Yosemite National Park. During her time there, she also worked as the diversity coordinator, where she led an initiative to help educators be more culturally responsive teachers. She has also worked as a public-school teacher, where she led her students to progress, on average, two grade levels in one year. She earned a MEd in special education through Teach for America.

Education & Certifications

  • M.S., Stanford University, Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources (2018)
  • M.Ed, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Special Education (2011)
  • B.A., Harvard College, History, with honors (2009)

Stanford Advisors

Lab Affiliations

2018-19 Courses

Work Experience

  • Teacher, Joseph E. Thiriot Elementary School (8/10/2009 - 6/5/2011)

    Special Education Teacher


    Las Vegas, NV

  • Manager of Teacher Leadership and Development, Teach for America (6/15/2011 - 6/15/2012)

    Supported 24 first- and second-year teachers in improving their teaching and meeting their goals.


    Milwaukee, WI

  • Field Science Educator, NatureBridge (6/23/2012 - 8/15/2014)

    Taught 3 to 5 day science programs


    Yosemite National Park, CA

All Publications