NATE FURMAN, PhD portrait
  • Co-Coordinator, U-EXPLORE, Parks, Recreation & Tourism
  • Associate Professor (Lecturer), Parks, Recreation & Tourism

Research Summary

My interest areas and publication record include topics such as natural resource management, learning transfer in outdoor/adventure education, decision-making in avalanche terrain, the use of technology in natural settings, pedagogy, programming, public land management, climbing stewardship, and service learning.


  • , BA Organizational Communication; Minor in Conflict Resolution, California State University, Chico


As Associate Professor of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism and Coordinator of U-EXPLORE, I have the privilege to help University of Utah students work towards their professional and personal goals.  I am honored to be a part of a thriving program that creates, shares, and applies knowledge about Parks, Recreation, and Tourism to inspire students, inform policy, serve social needs, promote sustainability, and advocate for the health of people, communities, and the environment. 

I grew up outside a small town in Northern California amidst towering redwoods and groves of apple orchards.  After high school I enrolled at California State University, Chico and earned a BA in Organizational Communication and a minor in Conflict Resolution.  One of my foundational college experiences was working with Adventure Outings, the student outdoor recreation program, and I started to get a glimpse of what a career in recreation might look like.  Wanting to learn more, I enrolled in the Master’s program in Recreation Administration at Chico and had the opportunity to complete a thesis that quantitatively measured the impacts of rock climbing to the Regular Northwest Face Route of Half Dome. 

During that time I began work as an Instructor, and later as a Program Supervisor, for the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS).  Over the course of a decade, I worked month-long climbing, mountaineering, hiking, and river programs from Patagonia to Alaska, and I started to develop theories about why students experienced so much personal development on their courses.  In short, I believed it was because participating in outdoor recreation leads many to self-determined actions and identity formation while developing positive place attachments and inspiring environmentally responsible behaviors.  These theories led me to enroll in the PhD program at the University of Utah.  Working with Dr. Sibthorp and Dr. Paisley, we investigated student learning outcomes from the National Outdoor Leadership School for several years.

Upon graduation, I took up service at Green Mountain College as Faculty, and later as Program Director, in the Adventure Education program—a program where students earned a BS that prepared them for work as an instructor, administrator, or land manager after graduation.  After five years of working with phenomenal students and faculty at Green Mountain College, a position at the University of Utah opened up and I was able to move back to my beloved Utah, amongst the mountains of the Wasatch and deserts of the Colorado Plateau.

And it is here that I find my calling as an educator, administrator, researcher, citizen, and recreator.  I try to weave together my interests in public land management, social justice, civic engagement, pedagogy, and outdoor recreation into my professional life to provide opportunities for students to advance theirs.  I am proud to be affiliated with many exceptional organizations, such as the American Alpine Institute, the School for International Expedition Training, the Association for Outdoor Recreation and Education, the National Outdoor Leadership School, the Salt Lake Climbers Alliance.