Leslie Carol Roberts

Leslie Carol Roberts profile image

I am a writer, researcher, Antarctic historian, team builder and leader. My father was a writer and my grandfather was a painter and illustrator and I grew up in a home where writing and drawing the world were actual, honored, and tangible ambitions.

As Chair of the MFA Writing Program, I have primary responsibility for the vision, leadership, and administration. I also believe graduate school is about shaping and building a community of writers who will be companions across time. Why study writing at an art school? Because writing is an art and also a making practice and story or narrative is the cohesive material that brings us closer to the Earth and each other. In these times, where actual fact and example of the shifting climate become realities rather than speculations, narrative is the thread that binds artists and technologists, left and right brain, to ponder, reflect on, and solve for the opportunities and challenges we face.

My vision is tethered to both my journalism roots and my current writing practice. All the arts are essential vehicles for evolving social and individual agendas, for cultivating and developing not just a mode of expression but a relational identity to The World. The arts teach us what it means to be human.

At CCA, we offer graduate students access to Bay Area intellectual resources, towards deep engagement in the critical issues of our times. 

I spend a lot of time talking to people and partnering with people in the Bay Area art, tech, and design communities -- learning about the opportunities and challenges facing the community where many of our students will ultimately work.

My philosophy is that graduate education in the arts in the 21st century offers a unique opportunity to partner with perhaps unfamiliar partners in industry as well as familiar community peers -- shaping culture through language, story, poetics -- and by learning, adapting, and adopting both subtle and paradigm-shifting technologies. 

I have been Chair of the MFA Design program at CCA, where I worked to expand the student enrollment via the addition of a three-year MFA in Design geared towards students interested in shifting into design from other disciplines. 

I wrote my first book, The Entire Earth and Sky: Views on Antarctica (University of Nebraska Press, 2012, 2008), while the world's first Fulbright Fellow in Antarctic Studies. My Antarctic work spans many years of histories, exploring the "little known" storie of simple seamen; I have delivered talks and papers at the Stanford Linear Accelerator, the New Zealand Studies Association (London), as well as to scientific groups at universities in the United States.

Prior to migrating to academia, I reported the news around the globe, writing hundreds of articles and essays for magazines, newspapers, and literary journals, including the Sydney Morning Herald, the Bangkok Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Bellevue Literary Review, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Iowa Review online.

Professor, non-tenure, Writing and Design, CCA

Chair, MFA Writing

Chair, Writing
Professor, Writing


BA, University of Michigan; MA, University of Canterbury, New Zealand; MFA, University of Iowa