Don Belt has traveled to 80 countries over the past four decades, working as a writer and editor of articles for National Geographic, where he reported on issues such as Islam and the West, global climate change, water scarcity, and the geopolitical trends shaping our world. As Senior Editor of National Geographic from 1998 to 2011, he helped to guide the magazine’s coverage of topics ranging from weapons of mass destruction to the legacy of colonialism in the modern Middle East.

Belt’s first story for the Geographic, on Georgia’s Chattooga River, was published in the April 1983 issue. He joined the magazine’s Editorial Staff as a writer in 1985, and became Associate Legends Editor in 1990. He served as the magazine’s Senior Editor for expeditions for three years; its foreign editor for five. He also served as National Geographic’s chief foreign correspondent from 2006 to 2011.

During his Geographic career, Belt authored major articles on Russia’s Lake Baikal, Sweden, Baja California, Israel’s Galilee, the ancient city of Petra in Jordan, the Golan Heights, Lawrence of Arabia, Islam, the European Union, Pakistan, India, Banglades

Belt served as Editor-in-Chief of the NGS book, World of Islam, and edited Geographic’s Atlas of the Middle East. He also contributed essays on Middle East geography, religious pilgrimages, Russian history, and early Christianity to National Geographic special issues.

Belt has appeared on PBS NewsHour, NPR, CNN, Fox, and newscasts around the world. He teaches journalism at the University of Richmond (UR) and directs university outreach for the Out of Eden Walk in partnership with the Pulitzer Center. In 2018 he led a series of National Geographic journalism workshops in India, and in 2022 he taught Slow Storytelling at NYU-Shanghai. He has lectured at George Washington University, the University of San Diego, San Diego State, UC Berkeley, Northwestern, Chicago, Harvard Law School, and the Jepson School for Leadership at UR. He’s also taught at Poynter Institute’s National Writers Workshop.

Popular speaking topics include Lawrence of Arabia, Pakistan, Syria, the modernization of India, the making of the modern Middle East, the Out of Eden Walk project, and his 30-year career at National Geographic. He delivered the keynote address on global Water issues to the Chautauqua Institution in July 2012. He has served as an adviser to the International Reporting Project at SAIS/Johns Hopkins, and currently serves on the board of the Out of Eden Walk non-profit organization.

Awards for writing include the Award for Excellence from Communication Arts, the National Magazine Award (ASME), a certificate of merit from the Overseas Press Club, and a First Place award from the North American Travel Writers. He was the recipient of a Pew Gatekeeper Fellowship to South Africa in 2002. In 2004 he was presented with the University of South Carolina’s Distinguished Alumnus Award. He was honored for lifetime achievement by the South Carolina Department of Education in 2011. And in 2013 he was inducted into the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame.

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