Derek Harwell

Derek Harwell

Academic Success Advisor/Exploratory Program Coordinator, Lecturer in Environment & Sustainability


B.A., Middlebury College, Geography 1993, M.S., Lesley University, Ecological Teaching and Learning, 2019


Q&A With Derek Harwell

How did you discover Western?

After visiting Crested Butte for many years and then moving to the valley a few years ago, Western has always been on my radar. With an opening in the Academic Resource Center for a Success Advisor, it was a great fit.

What are some of the highlights of your career?

I spent more than twenty years working in outdoor/experiential education. For a number of years I was able to work longer field seminars, leading sea kayak programs in South East Alaska and studying food production and water issues throughout California. To be on expedition style trips, living, experiencing, learning and growing alongside colleagues and students is an amazing way in which to work with students as an educator.

What most excites you about your field?

Many of the students I work with are exploring their own definition of success as well as how to envision, create and move towards their unique path ahead. It is a time in life that often brings a mix of emotions, at times exciting and others daunting. There is a creative tension that can come in such spaces allowing for new or unseen insights to emerge.

What is your favorite thing about the Gunnison Valley?

To be immersed in a landscape of mountains, rivers and valleys at the headwaters of the Gunnison River as it joins the Colorado River Watershed, while living in a community of welcoming people committed to living in relationship with place.