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MFA/ENR Dual Majors

Dear Future MFA student,

I am writing as a second year student MFA candidate in fiction. I’m also pursuing a dual major in Environment and Natural Resources (ENR).  Before coming to Wyoming I’d worked on organic farms and spent two years living in an agricultural community in Paraguay as a Peace Corps Volunteer.  Returning to school for an MFA was a long-awaited opportunity to focus on writing, but I also wanted to continue thinking about land use, development, and sustainable agriculture. The ENR option turned out to be an excellent way to do this.

To complete the requirements for the ENR major, I was able to choose courses across the curriculum that fit my particular interests.  I took a course on food, health and justice offered by the Division of Kinesiology and Health, and a graduate level environmental science course designed for students without a strong science background.  With support from the Haub School (which houses the ENR program) and the MFA program, I traveled to Paraguay last summer to interview farmers.  Next semester, I’ll continue work with a professor in the Botany department researching sustainable cotton production projects in India.  I’ll also travel to the Canary Islands as part of the ENR capstone course, Environmental Assessment. 

These choices reflect my personal interests, and the draw to the ENR program, for me, was this flexibility.  Both the MFA and ENR programs allow students to chart their own course of study. The ENR curriculum can be shaped to fit a range of interests within the field of environment and natural resources, whether it’s field ecology, environmental law and policy, or international environmental issues.  There are opportunities to study at the Teton Science School as well as international travel courses offered each semester.

Through the ENR option, I’ve also been able to work as an assistant editor for an environment and natural resources magazine, Western Confluence, for my graduate assistantship this year.  In this position I’ve learned about editing and publishing and taken on journalism projects I would have previously felt unqualified for.  The experience has been a great way to add to my skill set and open up opportunities for the future.  Each year, the ENR program offers a selection of assistantships, from teaching undergraduate courses to working with faculty on research projects. 

The ENR and MFA curriculum overlap for me in different ways.  For my thesis, I’m working on a collection of short stories, most of which are set in Paraguay.  Though my fiction is character driven, these stories pose questions about land use and development. The opportunities I’ve had for travel and study here at UW have added texture to my creative work.  Beyond theme and content, I find details from my ENR coursework make their way into my stories.  I’m always thinking about place in my fiction, and the ENR program has helped me to understand and appreciate Wyoming’s unique landscape.

Kelly Hatton, MFA 2014 graduate


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