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
Director, Graduate Program in Creative Writing
Phone: 970.943.2298
Office Location: Taylor Hall 222B
Laura  Pritchett, Ph.D. headshot
Nature Writing Concentration Faculty
Phone: 970.988.6528
Office Location:
  • Master of Arts
  • Master of Fine Arts



Western’s new low-residency MFA and M.A. in Nature Writing offers an ethically alert, cutting-edge program in an incomparable natural setting in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. Our program is established on the core belief that art can be an agent of change, that writing can change the way we live, our policies, and our values. Our practical focus on publication, professional development and partnerships with relevant nonprofits, newspapers, and think tanks underscores our belief that writers can participate in this field immediately and with gusto. Through extensive reading, intellectual inquiry, and rigorous professional and creative writing, students will engage with diverse voices, challenging questions and critical issues facing our world today.

As a participant in this program, you’ll be . . .

  • encouraged to fully participate in the contemporary world of nature writing by understanding its history, critically thinking on how the field has and must evolve, and preparing your own works for submission.
  • asked to study, understand, and make use of a wide range of literary techniques and styles.
  • trained in all the major literary sub-genres relevant to the field, including memoir, science writing, political writing, history, poetry, fiction, and various forms of creative nonfiction.
  • encouraged to explore emerging issues in the field including the need for new forms of storytelling, for greater inclusion and diversity of voice, and for essential changes in the literary dialogue.

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 Michelle Wilk 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