Jessica Bruder | Columbia Journalism School

Jessica Bruder

Adjunct Faculty


Jessica Bruder is a narrative journalist who writes about social issues and subcultures.

For her book "Nomadland," she spent months living in a camper van, documenting itinerant Americans who gave up traditional housing and hit the road full time, enabling them to travel from job to job and carve out a place for themselves in a precarious economy. The project spanned three years and more than 15,000 miles of driving — from coast to coast and from Mexico to the Canadian border. Named a New York Times Notable Book and Editors’ Choice, "Nomadland" won the Discover Award and was a finalist for the J. Anthony Lukas Prize and the Helen Bernstein Book Award. It’s also the basis for the eponymous, Academy Award-winning film starring Frances McDormand and directed by Chloé Zhao.

Bruder is also the author of “Burning Book” and the co-author, with Columbia Journalism Professor Dale Maharidge, of the book “Snowden’s Box: Trust in the Age of Surveillance.”

She’s written for WIRED, Harper’s, New York Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Nation, The International Herald Tribune and The Christian Science Monitor, among others. Earlier in her career, she was a staff writer at The New York Observer and The Oregonian and then a senior editor at Fortune Small Business magazine. Since 2004, she’s been a regular contributor to The New York Times where she was also the writer for START, a blog column on startups with social goals.

Bruder’s magazine stories have won the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism and a Deadline Club award. Her work has been supported by the Economic Hardship Reporting Project and New America, where she was a 2020 National Fellow, along with residencies at MacDowell, Yaddo, the Logan Nonfiction Program and the Bellagio Center.

Bruder earned her bachelor’s degree summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Amherst College, where she won the school’s Laura Ayres Snyder Poetry Prize and an Alpha Delta Phi/David P. Patchel Memorial Fund grant to study censorship in South Africa. She went on to receive a master’s degree at the Columbia Journalism School as co-valedictorian of her class, winning a Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship.

Bruder has been teaching at Columbia Journalism School since 2008. She also teaches at Journey, a summer journalism program in Prague.