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Elizabeth Rush

Elizabeth Rush is the author of Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore and Still Lifes from a Vanishing City: Essays and Photographs from Yangon, Myanmar. Her work explores how humans adapt to changes enacted upon them by forces seemingly beyond their control, from ecological transformation to political revolution. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Gaurdian, Harper’s, The Atlantic, Pacific Standard and the New Republic, among others.

In 2019, she will serve as the Antarctic Artist and Writer in Residence for the National Science Foundation. As such, she has been extended a singular invitation to join scientists from the United States and Great Britain aboard the R/V Nathaniel B. Palmer for a 50+ day scientific “cruise” to the Thwaites Glacier, one of the most remote regions in the world. The remote location makes conducting research on the glacier both difficult and of vital importance. To date, only 28 people have ever stood atop Thwaites. As a member of the International Thwaites Collaboration, Rush will accompany three research teams as they investigate how quickly Thwaites has retreated in the past and how quickly it is retreating now. Nicknamed the “Doomsday Glacier” by the news media, Thwaites’ deterioration destabilizes the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which is one of the largest potential contributors to sea level rise. The very rate at which Thwaites is melting will play a large role in determine the future of our coastal communities.

Rush is the recipient of numerous fellowships and grants including the Howard Foundation Fellowship awarded by Brown University, the Society for Environmental Journalism Grant, the Metcalf Institute Climate Change Adaptation Fellowship, and the Science in Society Award from the National Association of Science Writers. From 2015-2017 she served as the Andrew Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Humanities at Bates College (2015-2017). Today she teaches creative nonfiction courses at Brown University that carry the environmental sciences and digital technologies into the humanities classroom. Recently her students interviewed fishermen in the Narragansett Bay whose lives and livelihoods are being transformed by changes in the environment.

Rush has taught at the City University of New York and Southern New Hampshire University. She received her BA in English from Reed College and her MFA in Nonfiction from Southern New Hampshire University.

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Deeply felt . . . Rush captures nature with precise words that almost amount to poetry; the book is further enriched with illuminating detail from the lives of those people inhabiting today’s coasts. . . . Elegies like this one will play an important role as people continue to confront a transformed, perhaps unnatural world.
— New York Times

Talks and Topics

  • Listening at the Water’s Edge: Stories and Teachings from Communities on Climate Change’s Front Lines

  • On Rising: Radical Resiliency in the Era of Climate Change

  • From Witnessing to World-Building: Turning the Personal Political with Creative Nonfiction

  • Listening at the Edge: How to Make Environmental Discourse More Democratic

  • Testimonies of Transformation: Climate Change Narratives for a New Planet

  • Navigating Uncertain Terrain: Stepping into the Unknown with Narrative Nonfiction

  • Home in the Time of Climate Change


A smart, lyrical testament to change and uncertainty. Rush listens to both the vulnerability and resiliency of communities facing the shifting shorelines of extreme weather. These are the stories we need to hear in order to survive and live more consciously with a sharp-edged determination to face our future with empathy and resolve. RISING illustrates how climate change is a relentless truth and real people in real places know it by name, storm by flood by fire.
— Terry Tempest Williams

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Previous & Upcoming Events:

  • Feb 23, 2018: Cogut Institute for the Humanities - Brown University

  • Apr 14, 2018: 603 Writers’ Conference - Southern New Hampshire University

  • May 3, 2018: Home in the Time of Climate Change Conference - CUNY Graduate center

  • Oct 27, 2018: Annual OTIS Lecture on the Environment - Bates College

  • Oct 29, 2018: Chicago Library - Chicago, IL

  • Nov 7, 2018: Future Cities//Future Coasts - Tulane University

  • Nov 10, 2018: Portland Book Festival - Portland, OR

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