Kelli Larson

  • Senior Sustainability Scientist, Global Institute of Sustainability
  • Associate Professor, School of Sustainability
  • Associate Professor, School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Arizona State University
School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning
PO Box 875302
Tempe, AZ 85287-5302


Dr. Larson's areas of interest include human-environment interactions, water resource governance, and social dimensions of sustainability. She is primarily concerned with how and why risk perceptions, environmental attitudes, and ecological behavior vary across distinct social groups, different biophysical settings, and diverse places. With an interdisciplinary background in resource geography and multidisciplinary environmental studies, her scholarship advances knowledge of nature-society relations and the social acceptability and cultural sustainability of natural resource management regimes. Her past research spans topics from alternative farmers' agricultural information needs in the U.S. to international water conflict and cooperation worldwide. Currently, Dr. Larson is conducting research in two core areas: 1) the reasons underlying multidimensional perspectives and conflicting views on water resource governance, and 2) the causes, consequences, and feedbacks of residents' land management practices. While at ASU, much of her work has been situated in the desert metropolis of Phoenix, where she collaborates with multidisciplinary scholars in the Central Arizona;–Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research (CAP LTER) project and the Decision Center for a Desert City. Dr. Larson teaches classes such as Society and the Environment, Human Dimensions of Sustainability, Geographic Research Methods, and Workshops on Urban Water Governance


human-environment dynamics; water resource geography and governance; risk perceptions, policy attitudes, and sustainable behaviors; social-ecological systems; water resource geography; natural resource management; policy and governance; decisionmaking; risk perceptions, policy attitudes, and ecological behavior; urban ecology; water resource management; resource governance


    Ph.D., Resource Geography, Oregon State University - Corvallis, 2005

    M.A., Environmental Geography, Southern Illinois University - Carbondale, 1999

    B.A., Geography, Southern Illinois University - Carbondale, 1997

Journal Articles

In Press

Larson, K. L. and J. Brumand. In Press. Paradoxes in landscape management and water conservation: Examining neighborhood norms and institutional forces. Cities and the Environment

Larson, K. L. and E. N. Redman. In Press. Water education for sustainability: Criteria and recommendations. Society and Natural Resources

Polsky, C., J. M. Grove, C. Knudson, P. M. Groffman, N. D. Bettez, J. Cavender-Bares, S. J. Hall, J. B. Heffernan, S. E. Hobbie, K. L. Larson, J. L. Morse, C. Neill, K. Nelson, L. A. Ogden, J. O’Neill-Dunne, D. E. Pataki, M. K. Steele and R. R. Chowdhury. In Press. Assessing the homogenization of urban land management with an application to US residential lawncare. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1323995111.

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Book Chapters


Larson, K. L., D. C. Ibes and E. A. Wentz. 2013. Identifying the water conservation potential of neighborhoods in Phoenix, AZ: an integrated socio-spatial approach. Pp. 11-35 In: Lawrence, P. ed., Geospatial Approaches to Urban Water Resources. Vol 7. Springer Series. DOI: 10.1007/978-94-007-4734-0_3.


Edsall, R. and K. L. Larson. 2006. Decision making in a virtual environment: Effectiveness of a semi-immersive "Decision Theater" in understanding and assessing human-environment issues. Conference Proceedings for Automated Cartography 2006.



Ayodele, D. and K. L. Larson. 2014. Water use and supply trends within the Sunbelt: A comparative analysis of Arizona and North Carolina. Poster presented at the 16th Annual CAP LTER Poster Symposium and All Scientists Meeting, January 17, 2014, Skysong, Scottsdale, AZ. (link)

Blasco, D., H. McAtee, A. Wutich, A. White, C. Roberts, D. White, K. Larson and A. A. Brewis. 2014. Hard paths, soft paths or no paths? Cross-cultural perceptions of water solutions. Poster presented at the 16th Annual CAP LTER Poster Symposium and All Scientists Meeting, January 17, 2014, Skysong, Scottsdale, AZ. (link)

Kruke, L., D. White, K. Larson and A. Wutich. 2014. Climate change uncertainty and skepticism: A cross-country analysis. Poster presented at the 16th Annual CAP LTER Poster Symposium and All Scientists Meeting, January 17, 2014, Skysong, Scottsdale, AZ. (link)

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Polsky, C., J. Grove, C. Knudson, K. L. Larson, P. Ogden and R. R. Chowdhury. 2013. Lawn care practices and motivations: A social and biogeochemical study of six US metropolitan areas. Paper presented April 12, 2013 at the Association of American Geographers (AAG) Annual Meeting, April 9-13, 2013, Los Angeles, CA.

White, D. D., L. Withycombe Keeler, A. D. Wiek and K. L. Larson. 2013. Envisioning the future of water governance in central Arizona: A survey of water decision makers. Presented June 6, 2013 at the 19th International Symposium on Society and Resource Management (ISSRM), June 4-8, 2013, Estes Park Center, Colorado.


Larson, K. L. 2012. Vulnerability of water systems to the effects of climate change and urbanization: A comparison of Phoenix and Portland (USA). Presented May 31, 2012 at Adaptation Futures: Second International Climate Change Adaptation Conference, May 29-31, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ.

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Larson, K. L., D. D. White, P. Gober, C. W. Kirkwood, V. K. Smith, M. C. Nelson, C. L. Redman and S. K. Wittlinger. 2013. Advancing science in support of water policy and urban climate change adaptation at Arizona State University’s Decision Center for a Desert City: A synthesis of interdisciplinary research on climate, water, and decision making under uncertainty. Decision Center for a Desert City, Arizona State University. Technical Report 13-02. (link)

Larson, K. L. 2013. Views and activities among municipal water managers and land planners: Stressors and strategies for resource management in metropolitan Phoenix, AZ. A report to stakeholders. Decision Center for a Desert City, Global Institute of Sustainability, Arizona State University, Tempe.


Larson, K. L., S. J. Hall, E. M. Cook, B. Funke, C. Strawhacker and V. K. Turner. 2009. Social-ecological dynamics of residential landscapes: Human drivers of management practices and ecological structure in an urban ecosystem context. Final Report from IGERT workshop Fall 2008 Schools of Geography, Sustainability, Life Science and Hu.

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