The Environmental Writing focus offers students the opportunity to develop their writing skills and interests in ways that promote and demonstrate environmental concerns, awareness, and sensitivities. The culminating project for the Writing focus can be a thesis, professional paper, or portfolio. The diversity of thesis project possibilities (see Thesis/Portfolio Summary tab at top of page) mirrors, on a Program scale, the great range in what is often called Nature Writing, Environmental Writing, or the Writing of Place in the wider culture.
Students are encouraged to conceive of their Writing focus thesis project as either a book in progress, a prototype for a book, a series of related non-fiction creative works with individual publication possibilities, and/or a thorough book proposal, including sample chapters or excerpts. Environmental Writing thesis work should be original, compelling, and impassioned; grounded in knowledge of the tradition and field; informed and critical as to the issues it raises; and written to publication standards.
Environmental Writing (ENST 573)
Instructor: Phil Condon
Environmental Writing is a workshop class designed to help students hone their writing of environmental subjects and concerns for a general audience. The course inspires, challenges, and encourages students in their writing, and introduces them to a wide range of readings. The workshop is a community of writers based in honesty, courtesy, commitment to craft, and shared enthusiasm for good writing and a more thoughtful world. In addition to short assignments - the course requires four large writing projects: two original essays, a significant revision of one essay, and a polished edit of the other. Student work will be read and discussed by class.
Literature of Nature Writing (ENST 505)
Instructor: Phil Condon
This course focuses on the study of nature, environmental, and place-based writing, with emphasis on the American tradition and contemporary work and its relationship to twenty-first century environmental concerns, challenges, and opportunities.
Visiting Writer (ENST 594)
The Kittredge Distinguished Visiting Writer in the Environmental Studies Program brings an outstanding writer to teach a semester-long graduate writing course in Environmental Studies each spring semester.
Chris Dombrowski (Body of Water, forthcoming from Milkweed) will be the 2017 Visiting Writer. Previous visiting writers include Sharman Apt Russell, William deBuys Janisse Ray, Rick Bass, David Oates, Rebecca Solnit, Craig Childs, Terry Tempest Williams, Gary Ferguson, Kim Todd, Robert Michael Pyle, Annick Smith, and the Visiting Writer Program’s namesake, William Kittredge.
Additional UM Writing Courses
Selected faculty from other departments and programs who offer courses of major interest and relevance to writing focus students include the following:
- Christopher Preston, Philosophy: Environmental Ethics & Environmental Philosophy
- David Moore, English: Ecocriticism, Native American Literature, Green Literature
- Steve Schwartz, Communications: Environmental Rhetoric
- Judy Blunt and David Gates, English: Creative Writing Nonfiction
- Matt Frank, Journalism: Environmental Reporting
The Environmental Writing Institute (EWI) is a workshop led by a nationally known environmental writer each fall and attended by a combination of second-year Environmental Studies student writers with other writers, teachers, and students from around the country. Prospective graduate students are encouraged to apply to EWI to learn more about the Program and western Montana. Previous EWI instructors have included David James Duncan, Richard Manning, Rick Bass, Elizabeth Grossman, Alison Hawthorne Deming, Sharman Apt Russell, Janisse Ray, Kim Todd, Phil Condon, John Elder, Robert Michael Pyle, and many others.
Camas: The Nature of the West, Environmental Literary Magazine
Founded by Environmental Studies graduate students at the University of Montana in 1992, Camas is a biannual environmental literary magazine produced by students in the Environmental Studies program. Two editors are chosen each year to publish two issues of the magazine in an effort to encourage a dialogue on environmental and cultural issues in the West; celebrate the people who work, study, write, and live here; and provide an opportunity for students and emerging writers to publish their work alongside established environmental authors.
Wild Mercy Reading Series
This reading series features nature and environmental writing by environmental studies graduate students, Environmental Studies Visiting Writers, and alumni. The series runs every Thursday evening for two months in the spring, and features two writers each evening.
This community reading event held in downtown Missoula is coordinated by Camas editors and features prominent area writers, along with live music. Past readers include David James Duncan, Janisse Ray, Tami Haaland, Sheryl Noethe, Annick Smith, Phil Condon, Josh Slotnick, Bryce Andrews, Amy Ratto Parks, and Melissa Mylchreest.