Alan Brew

Executive Director of the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute
Professor of English

Alan Brew
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Earned and Honorary Degrees

PhD, MA, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
BA, Gustavus Adolphus College


Growing up, I lived in a small, Midwestern town near Oiyuwege, a well-established Dakota Indian crossing of the Minnesota River. My winter days were filled with sledding, skiing, and lots of reading. My summers with fishing, biking, and excursions to the north woods and the mountains of the west.

As an undergraduate at Gustavus Adolphus College, I traveled to the Southwest to study geology, to the lake country of northern Minnesota to study winter ecology by dogsled, and to Exeter, England, to study Shakespeare and the British romantic poets. When I graduated, I was still searching for a vocation that would allow me to combine my passions for literature and the natural world. This search led me to the Henry's Fork of the Snake River, where I worked for a summer as an interpretive ranger at Harriman State Park, to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where I earned a doctoral degree in American literature, and, finally, to Northland College, where I am able to teach courses that reflect my special interest in exploring the relationship between humans and the natural world.

Regularly, these courses take me to the canyons of the Southwest, the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, and the lakes of the Boundary Waters. As a teacher and student of literature, I am committed to the preservation and exploration of stories, and I strive to connect individuals with narratives that comfort, challenge, guide, and, ultimately, place them in the rich complexities of the human experience.