Jessica Bruder | School of Journalism

Jessica Bruder

Adjunct Faculty


Jessica Bruder is a journalist who reports on subcultures, economic justice and social issues.

For her most recent book, Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century (W.W. Norton & Co.), 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.

Bruder has written for publications including Harper's Magazine, The Nation, The Washington Post, The New York Times Magazine, The Associated Press, The International Herald Tribune, The Christian Science Monitor, O: The Oprah Magazine, Inc. Magazine, Reuters and She has worked as a staff writer at The Oregonian and The New York Observer and a senior editor at Fortune Small Business magazine. Starting in 2004, Bruder was a regular contributor to The New York Times, where she became the founding columnist behind START, a blog profiling socially innovative startups.

Her long-form magazine stories have won the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism and a Deadline Club Award. Support for her projects has come from the Economic Hardship Reporting Project and the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center, where she was a 2016 literary arts fellow. 

Bruder is also the author of Burning Book (Simon & Schuster), a narrative non-fiction exploration of the annual Burning Man festival that the Los Angeles Times called “quietly poetic.” 

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 the journalism school since 2008.