Williams “liberated” by new assignment’s focus on climate change and spirituality.
Utah writer Terry Tempest Williams has been appointed writer-in-residence at the Harvard Divinity School.
“Humbled by the support, honored to be able to work with such remarkable people,” Williams wrote in a Facebook post Wednesday morning announcing her appointment for the 2017-18 academic year. “Thrilled at all I will be exposed to and learn.”
Williams lives in Castle Valley and is a visiting professor at Dartmouth College’s environmental studies program. She has written 15 books, including last year’s well-received “The Hour of the Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks” and her influential 1991 memoir “Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place.”
Her new assignment includes a semester contemplating and writing about the spiritual implications of climate change, before she will lead a seminar exploring those themes with Divinity School students.
“To be able to work within the context of world religions as it relates to eco-spirituality in all disciples is invigorating to me,” Williams wrote in an email Wednesday. “I feel liberated in a way I have not experienced before. To have this gift of time — a year — to think deeply about the issues I care about is something I have never had.”
Last year, Williams resigned her teaching position at the University of Utah’s Environmental Humanities program, which she helped found. She says she was pressured to take a pay cut and assume more administrative oversight of off-campus classes.
In February 2016, she and her husband, Brooke Williams, protested climate change by bidding on Bureau of Land Management oil and gas leases at a Salt Lake City auction. Their winning bids on 1,120 acres of north of Arches National Park prompted them to incorporate their own energy company, Tempest Explorations LLC.
In October, the Interior Department refunded the Williams’ money and withheld the leases. Williams said Wednesday that the couple are appealing the BLM decision.