Dr. Todd Petersen has worked as a YMCA assistant program director, literary journal editor, and English professor. Currently, he serves as director of an award-winning experiential learning program at Southern Utah University. He is a member of the National Society of Experiential Education (NSEE) and offers workshops through the NSEE’s Experiential Learning Academy. He is also a member of the Author’s Guild.
Dr. Petersen’s research focuses on screen aesthetics, visual narrative theory, heist and superhero films, as well as film adaptation. He has published a book of short stories and a novel. His third book, “It Needs to Look Like We Tried,” will be forthcoming in 2018 and another, “Picnic in the Ruins,” is slated for release in 2019.
Petersen has a bachelor of arts degree in telecommunications and film from University of Oregon, a master’s degree in English from Northern Arizona University, and a Ph.D. in English with emphasis in fictional rhetoric and critical theory from Oklahoma State University.
Industry Expertise (3)
Areas of Expertise (15)
Storytelling for Influence Certification
Experiential Education Academy Certification
National Society of Experiential Education, 2016
Experiential Education Program of the Year
National Society of Experiential Education, 2016
Award of Excellence
SUU Board of Trustee's, 2015
Change Leader Certification
Utah Division of Art and Museums, 2014
Book Published: Rift
Jens Thorsen's retirement is not what his wife, Lila, was expecting. Rather than tending to things around the house, Thorsen has thrown himself into a life of charity: visiting the sick, the widowed, and the incarcerated. Between these acts of service, Thorsen finds the time to nurse his feud with local bishop Darrell Bunker. The two have hated each other for as long as anyone in Sanpete, Utah, can remember. Zarahemla Books, 2009.
Novel of the Year
Marilyn Brown Unpublished Novel Award, 2009
Southern Utah University, 2008
Book Published: Long After Dark
A man struggles--literally--with his dead father. A housewife suffers from post-calling depression. The son of a polygamist comes to terms with the damage done by his upbringing. An unwed teen mother faces down her father. In these award-winning stories and a new novella, Todd Robert Petersen takes the reader on expeditions to Utah, Arizona, Brazil, Rwanda, and into the souls of twenty-first-century Mormons caught between their humanity, faith, and church. Zarahemla Books, 2007.
Salt Lake Weekly, 2007
Southern Utah University, 2007
Oregon State University, 2001
AWP Intro Award
Association of Writers & Writing Program, 1998
University of Oregon: B.A., Telecommunications & Film
Northern Arizona University: M.A., English
Oklahoma State University: Ph.D., English
- National Society of Experiential Education
- Author's Guild
- Nat Sobel at Sobel/Weber
Media Appearances (6)
SUU Professor Publishes New Novel
SUU News online
Dr. Todd Petersen, a professor of English and the director of Southern Utah University’s project-based learning program, recently published his third novel, It Needs to Look Like We Tried. The novel explores the ways in which our failures work on the lives of others, weaving an intricate web of interconnected stories.
English professor Todd Petersen publishes 3rd novel
St George News online
Todd Petersen, an English professor at Southern Utah University, recently published his third novel, “It Needs to Look Like We Tried,” which explores the ways in which our failures work on the lives of others, weaving an intricate web of interconnected stories.
SUU has the EDGE
USA Today online
In the EDGE program, the sky’s the limit and the options are as boundless as students’ imaginations.
SUU is garnering more and more positive attention for the EDGE program, with other universities looking to imitate the university’s success, ever more in need of that kind of dedication. That’s a credit, as well, to the leadership of SUU professors Todd Petersen and Patrick Clark, who administer the program.
The cutting Edge: Innovations at SUU gaining notice
Deseret News online
Edge is one of SUU's goals to bring students to the school, give them an innovative and comprehensive education, and build up the school's graduation rates, Wyatt said.
For the educators who guide the program day-to-day, SUU hopes to steer students beyond memorization and lecture-based learning into deliberate and practical self-discovery, developing skills and curiosity that will benefit them throughout their lives.
"How often does this happen in college? People just to school and kind of get batted around from one thing to another, and maybe luck into finding a class and a passion, maybe pick the right major at the right time, but things just happen to them accidentally," said Todd Petersen, an English professor who has also taken on the title "director of project-based learning."
Professors Work Toward More Inviting Office Hours
Southern Utah University online
Taking a page straight out of Pixar’s book, faculty and staff at Southern Utah University have worked to create a more inviting office hour environment for students and colleagues.
Todd Petersen, co-founder of the idea and current EDGE director, said that he and other staff wanted to use one of their required office hours spent in the Rotunda, located within the Sharwan Smith Student Center, because they believed that more interaction would happen between students and staff in a commons area.
Petersen also went on to say that it has been a great opportunity for colleagues to bounce ideas off of one another when before they would not have had an opportunity to collaborate.
“Pixar’s offices are on this radial system where everybody has to come to the center to go to the bathroom and get mail,” he said. “What they notice is that people are bumping into each other on those trips. They see cool things happen when people are out of their offices and out from behind their desks, out in these common spaces.”
A Novel Professor: Todd Petersen's Latest Work hits Store Shelves
Southern Utah University online
SUU Professor Todd Robert Petersen closed a nine-year chapter of his life recently when his second novel, Rift, was added to store bookshelves.
Petersen, associate professor of English, says he is happy to finally see his hard work in print. And considering that his latest novel has already won the Marilyn Brown Unpublished Novel award in 2008, and with positive reviews from state and local media, Petersen’s efforts seem well worth his labors.
Research Grants (1)
Centennial Initiatives Grant
National Park Service $68,000
ENGL 2020 Introduction to Creative Writing
A process based approach to understanding the craft, tools, and techniques that inform successful Creative Writing. Students will read traditional and contemporary models of successful writing, compose works of their own, and participate in peer workshops that allow comment and feedback.
ENGL 2023 Screen Aesthetics
An introduction to the study of the formal structures of visual storytelling, an exploration of the various media used to tell these stories, and a guide to the major modes of screen analysis and criticism.
ENGL 3030 Intermediate Fiction Writing
A creative writing workshop focused on the forms of short fiction. Reading in the tradition and in matters of craft is central to this course.
ENGL 4020 Advanced Fiction Writing
An advanced course in long-form fiction projects. Students complete 50+ pages of either a novel or novella. Extensive close reading and analysis of touchstone works are required.
EDGE 3020 Creativity Project Proposal and Planning
An on-line eight-week workshop that guides students through the process of creating an EDGE Project proposal and plan tuned specifically to the Creativity Engagement Center.
EDGE 4020 Creativity Project Reporting and Reflection
An on-line eight-week course that guides students through the process of verifying, reporting, and reflecting on their EDGE Project, which is tuned specifically to the Creativity Engagement Center. Students will create a portfolio featuring their project and complete a professional development module prepared by SUU’s Career and Professional Development staff.
HONR 1040 Honors Foundations
Students will be introduced to and explore the fundamental skill-sets required to succeed as students at Southern Utah University and in the SUU Honors Program by developing an understanding of the complete student experience at college and the interdisciplinary nature of an Honors education. The class will emphasize seminar-style discussions and teamwork, develop students’ critical thinking and problem solving skills, and explore issues related to holistic student heath and well being.