Katie Zanto

Senior Lecturer Interdisciplinary Studies
Katie Zanto


Katie is a senior lecturer for University of Nevada, Reno at Lake Tahoe. Her expertise and teaching experiences focus on interdisciplinary studies, project-based learning, service and community engaged learning, and outdoor adventure leadership.

As Chair of the Interdisciplinary Studies program at Sierra Nevada University from 2009-2021, Katie supervised and collaborated with a core team of interdisciplinary faculty. Together they built and developed unique undergraduate student majors and opportunities at the lake, including Outdoor Adventure Leadership, Sustainability and Digital Arts and Journalism integrations.

In 2004, under the auspices of University of California, Berkeley, she designed and founded a literacy and wilderness leadership program, Adventure Risk Challenge (ARC) for under-served high school youth. In 2011, she received the LL Bean Outdoor Hero award for her innovation with this program. A former Outward Bound instructor, she taught mountaineering, rock climbing, backpacking, expeditionary canoeing and backcountry snowboarding courses across the United States for over a decade before founding this organization. She has worked with teachers, families, adults, youth in a range of 1 week to semester long expeditionary courses. Currently, as Board Chair Emeritus of ARC- a non-profit in its 20th year, she combines her academic focus in communication, writing, assessment and integrative learning, her passion for outdoor adventure education and her commitment to social justice to advise and support the organization.

In her teaching, she brings project-based learning, service learning, communication practices, and integrative thinking to the university and aims to inspire students to get involved in their communities.

Research interests

  • Integration of adolescent literacy development and Outdoor Adventure Education
  • Equity and Inclusion in Outdoor Adventure Education


  • M.A., English Education and Curriculum Development, Stanford University
  • B.A., English, magna cum laude, Dartmouth College;

Courses taught

  • Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Service Learning
  • Capstone in Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Outdoor Adventure Ethics and Land Management
  • English Composition II: Educational Issues
  • Descriptive Grammar

Professional certifications

Wilderness First Responder
Mental Health First Aid