Jan DeBlieu

Associate Faculty, Nonfiction
Creative Writing & Literary Arts


Jan DeBlieu is the author of four books and many articles and essays. Her third book, Wind: How the Flow of Air has Shaped Life, Myth, and the Land, received the John Burroughs Medal for Natural History Writing, the highest national honor in the genre. Jan has published pieces in literary journals and well-known national publications, including The New York Times Magazine, Smithsonian, Audubon, and The Huffington Post.

Much of Jan’s writing focuses on the subtle ways we are each shaped by the landscapes where we live and work.  She is also known for her work as an environmental activist, and she helped found a grassroots conservation organization that has prevented oil companies from drilling off the North Carolina Outer Banks, her home.

Since 2009 Jan has focused her efforts on writing about social justice issues and learning to live in service to others, the subject of her fifth, forthcoming book.

Teaching Responsibilities

In my early career I was extremely fortunate to have a mentor who pushed me to probe more deeply, ask a few more questions, think a little harder, and revise one more time—while still letting me make mistakes and develop my own voice. It was a tremendous model for me. Now that I’m in the mentor’s chair, I try to achieve the same balance, guiding students, helping shape their work, but ultimately letting them choose their own paths.

I’m fascinated by what I call the creative mystery, the thought process that begins with a vaguely formed idea and ends with a piece of gorgeous writing. How does this transpire for me? For you? Exploring our different approaches to creativity and drawing inspiration from each other is one of the best parts of joining a writing community. We are so lucky to be living in a time and society where we can write.

Mentoring students and critiquing manuscripts can be art forms in their own right. As a teacher I work to create a community of enthusiasm and respect, where discussions are open and lively and students feel at ease. My goal is for participants to learn and be challenged—while having a good bit of fun.