Environmental Narrative, Graduate Certificate

Department of English

College of Arts and Letters

This eighteen-credit certificate program trains students to write literary fiction and nonfiction that incorporates scientific inquiry and place-based narratives in order to publish work that speaks to a wide audience interested in ecology, sustainability, and climate change and solutions. Students may work in a wide range of genres, including realism, speculative fiction, nature writing, longform nonfiction, and lyric, braided, and poetic forms.

The curriculum draws from diverse disciplines, traditions, and writing styles.

The certificate incorporates writing workshops, literary study, and field work, and culminates in a capstone writing project.

    • Graduate certificate programs require a minimum of 12 credit hours. Many graduate certificate programs require more than 12 credit hours.
    • No more than one 400-level NAU course (3 - 4 units) may be used on a graduate certificate program.
    • No more than twenty-five percent of the units required for the certificate program may be transferred from another university.
    • A 400-level course (undergraduate course) completed at another university is not eligible for transfer credit.
    • A minimum grade point average of 3.0 must be achieved to obtain a graduate certificate. No more than three units of coursework with a Grade of "C" may be used in a certificate program.
    • A graduate student may pursue a graduate certificate concurrently with a graduate degree. Each graduate degree program must decide which, if any, certificate courses can be counted toward the graduate degree.
    • Students who are admitted to a graduate certificate program will be eligible for the official posting of the graduate certificate to their transcripts when all applicable coursework has been successfully completed and approved by the academic unit and the Graduate College.
  • Please be aware that federal financial aid is not available for some certificates if the certificate is pursued and completed as a stand-alone certificate (i.e., not completed concurrently with a degree program).  See the “Details” tab for additional information.

In addition to University Requirements:

  • Complete individual plan requirements.

Minimum Units for Completion 18
Research Individualized research is required.
Some online/blended coursework Required

Purpose Statement

(Scope) This certificate aims to broaden understanding of climate-change and environmental issues through narrative writing. The Environmental Narrative Certificate is an interdisciplinary degree program that combines science and literature courses with a breadth of specialized courses from across the university.
(Content, Skills, Learning Experiences) The Environmental Narrative Certificate program provides cross-disciplinary training to prepare students to write narratives about environmental science. Students gain this knowledge through their individual fieldwork research and coursework in literature, climate science writing, environmental communication, political science and environmental science. The Environmental Narrative Certificate rigorous training in narrative and environmental science prepares graduates for successful careers in environmental writing as creators of texts that rely on literary techniques, such as novels, memoirs, long form journalism, and science writing. Our graduates can successfully communicate across multiple disciplines to develop scientifically and politically sound narratives to enlighten audiences to the wide range of environmental issues that currently challenge our society. The Environmental Narrative Certificate trains students how to develop character, plot, scene, and other literary techniques to captivate the imagination of readers and propel the understanding and urgency of climate science to a broad audience.  The research skills gained by Environmental Narrative students help them continue to expand their knowledge long after they graduate from the program. This training and experience helps our graduates assume leadership roles in Environmental Writing, Sustainability Writing, and Climate Science-writing positions.
This program is designed for students with strong preparation in English, Communication, Sustainability Studies, Political Science, and Environmental Science. Moreover, we aim to reach out to diverse students, and we want to become a flagship certificate for recruiting and graduating Native American students from the broader southwest region.

Student Learning Outcomes

This eighteen-credit certificate program trains students to write literary fiction and nonfiction that incorporates scientific inquiry and place-based narratives in order to publish work that speaks to a wide audience interested in ecology, sustainability, and climate change and solutions. Students may work in a wide range of genres, including realism, speculative fiction, nature writing, long form nonfiction, and lyric, braided, and poetic forms. As the market, audience, and necessity for ecological writing grow, these students will be prepared to apply their experience and their narrative skills.
This certificate will prepare students to: 

  • Read and respond thoughtfully and thoroughly to work by their colleagues in order to hone the critical, intellectual, and analytical skills that are crucial to success in a broad range of literary, artistic, cultural and professional fields. 
  • Refine skills in drafting, revising and editing in a primary literary genre with the goal of producing a polished creative manuscript of marketable quality. 
  • Learn the theoretical foundations and research methods in advanced literary studies, and gain expertise in specific genres, periods, and topics in the field, namely environmental-literary criticism and traditions beyond settler/Euro-American notions of place, wilderness, and ecology. 
  • Write about the environmental forces that shape their work with better-informed scientific research and rationale. 
  • Develop a professional presentation of an excerpt to the community in a public reading.

Graduate Admission Information
  • The NAU graduate online application is required for all programs. Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.

    Admission requirements include the following:

    • Transcripts.
    • Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution with a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale ("A" = 4.0), or the equivalent.

    Visit the NAU Graduate Admissions website for additional information about graduate school application deadlines, eligibility for study, and admissions policies.

    Ready to apply? Begin your application now.

    International applicants have additional admission requirements. Please see the International Graduate Admissions Policy.

Certificate Requirements
  • Take the following 18 units:

    • Foundation Writing Courses (3 units):
    • Literature Courses (6 units):
    • Advanced Writing Courses  - Select one from the following (3 units):
    • Science-Centered Coursework (3 units): Select three units on Global Climate Change, Science Communication, Environmental Studies, or other coursework selected in consultation with an advisor.
      • Select one from the following (3 units):
    • Field Work Capstone* (3 units):

    *The Capstone could include amateur field work, internships, community engagement projects, or collaborative research, culminating in a 30-page writing component integrating that individualized experience into the creative narrative.

  • This certificate may be pursued and completed concurrently with a degree program or as a stand-alone certificate. Federal financial aid cannot be used if the certificate is completed as a stand-alone certificate.

Additional Information
  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also successfully complete. For prerequisite information, click on the course or see your advisor.