The University of Arizona Southwest Field Studies in Writing program has been awarded a $20,000 Arts | Humanities | Resilience grant from the TRIF Water, Environment, and Energy Solutions initiative, administered by the Arizona Institute for Resilience, and the College of Fine Arts.
Each year, the program sends three Creative Writing MFA students to engage in reciprocal place-based learning during a two-week research residency in Patagonia. These students study the environmental challenges and opportunities unique to the borderlands while giving back to border communities by offering storytelling workshops and participating in restoration fieldwork in collaboration with the Borderlands Restoration Network’s Borderlands Earth Care Youth Program, or BECY.
During storytelling sessions with Field Studies fellows, high school students produce written reflections about their work with BECY as well as the places where they live, acquiring better tools to advocate for and articulate the importance of the human and natural ecosystems of southern Arizona.
“With this grant, we are excited to broaden participation by including a graduate student from another creative arts field this summer,” said English Professor Susan Briante and English lecturer Francisco Cantú, leaders of the program. “This will serve as a pilot toward our longer-term goal of expanding the program from creative writing to interdisciplinary creative arts.”
The funding will allow the summer program to double the number of high school students that can participate as well as expand its geographic reach. The grant will improve support for participating graduate fellows and help fund the creation of an undergraduate Field Studies class.
Since 2017, the Southwest Field Studies in Writing program, housed in the Department of English, has been amplifying voices and expanding dialogue on environmental issues relevant to southern Arizona. Field Studies fellows produce writing disseminated to a national audience via the Field Studies in Writing website. Former fellows have gone on to publish their work in national magazines, as well as release books with major publishing houses.
By coupling creative writing and community engagement, the Field Studies program aims to make the public aware of the environmental and social justice challenges that face the region.
The AIR Arts | Humanities | Resilience grant will enable the program to expand in scope and impact, while developing a strategy for securing sustainable external funding.