Nature Writing

Faculty & Staff


Aaron  Abeyta  headshot
Director, Poetry Concentration, Nature Writing Concentration Faculty
Phone: 970.943.2163
Office Location:
Tyson Hausdoerffer, Ph.D. headshot
Interim Director, Graduate Program in Creative Writing
Phone: 970.943.2298
Office Location: Taylor Hall 222B
Julianne Warren headshot
Director, Nature Writing Concentration
Phone: 970.943.2163
Office Location: Remote
  • Master of Fine Arts
  • Master of Arts
  • Overview

    Stemming from the heart of the Rocky Mountains, Western’s new MFA and M.A. in Nature Writing is a new turn on an old term. We’re calling this turn “Earth StoryCraft.” This program marks unprecedented intersecting social and environmental emergencies. It’s about listening responsibly to what Earth is telling.

    • You’ll celebrate flourishing imagination and transformative arts of storytelling for resistance and renewal.
    • You’ll engage with diverse voices and ways of knowing. We respect co-creative potentials—or, natures—inside and outside our skins.
    • You’ll delve into the past and traditional genres. You’ll discover newly emergent forms that admit present crises.
    • You’ll build storytelling skills for resistance to unjust, oppressive systems and renewal of land and earth relations. This focus on storytelling is the spirit of Earth StoryCraft.

    The Program

    Western’s Creative Writing MFA and M.A. concentrations are low-residency programs. Faculty and students interact from a distance during the academic year and then gather for two weeks in July on the Gunnison campus for classes, lectures, readings, discussions, and of course, writing.

    • MFA students attend three summer residencies: one prior to the first semester, one between years one and two and one in the third summer.
    • During the academic year, full-time MFA students take two courses each semester. These six-credit courses make use of conference calls and web platforms for online work.
    • To complete the MFA, students work on a culminating portfolio throughout their final year.
    • M.A. students pursue an identical curriculum to MFA students, but only come for two summers and one academic year. M.A. students do not write a final portfolio.

    Opportunities and Partnerships

    • Take courses or even add a concentration in Western’s other low-residency Creative Writing concentrations: Poetry, Screenwriting for Film and Television, Publishing or Genre Fiction.
    • Practicums with High Country News, located at Western, with features covering the American West, including Tribal Affairs, Immigration, Climate and more!
    • Collaborate with the Center for Humans and Nature, a creative think-tank that entertains multiple perspectives on resilient futures for all.
    • Students living nearby can take courses in Western’s other Graduate Programs, including our Master of Science in Ecology and Master in Environmental Management.
    • Collaborate with the Coldharbour Institute, located in the Gunnison Valley, which “facilitates education, incubation and demonstration of regenerative personal, community and land practices.”
    • Students can propose other collaborations within their own local communities and/or other justice and movement-building, activist, grassroots and/or policy-making groups.

    Learn More

    Reach out to Lisa Swarts for more information.


    Header image by Phyllis Fife (Creek), Mist in the Morning, 1965, Oil on canvas
    Courtesy of the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, Santa Fe, NM
    Photo by Addison Doty; Design by John Schauer