Kelli Larson

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

School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning
Arizona State University
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


water resource geography and governance; human-environment dynamics; risk perceptions, policy attitudes and sustainable behaviors; urban ecology; landscape management


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 E. N. Redman. In Press. Water education for sustainability: Criteria and recommendations. Society and Natural Resources DOI: 10.1080/08941920.2014.933932.

White, D. D., L. Withycombe Keeler, A. Wiek and K. L. Larson. In Press. Envisioning the future of water governance: A survey of central Arizona water decision makers. Environmental Practice


Groffman, P. M., J. Cavender-Bares, N. D. Bettez, J. M. Grove, S. J. Hall, J. B. Heffernan, S. E. Hobbie, K. L. Larson, J. L. Morse, C. Neill, K. C. Nelson, J. Oneill-Dunne, L. Ogden, D. E. Pataki, C. Polsky, R. R. Chowdhury and M. K. Steele. 2014. Ecological homogenization of urban America. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 12(1):74-81. DOI: 10.1890/120374. (link)

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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. M. 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)

Christman, M., R. Bond and K. Larson. 2014. A current state analysis of the water consumption impact for large residential and commercial structures within the City of Tempe. Poster presented at the Decision Center for a Desert City Annual Poster Symposium, April 28, 2014, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ.

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Larson, K. L. 2014. Ecosystem service preferences and residential landscape management: Homogeneity, heterogeneity, and scale. Presentation at the Association of American Geographers (AAG) Annual Meeting, April 8-12, 2014, Tampa, FL.

White, D. D., L. Withycombe Keeler, A. Wiek, K. L. Larson, D. A. Sampson and R. Quay. 2014. Linking stakeholder engagement, scenario analysis, and simulation modeling to explore the long-term impacts of regional water governance regimes. Presentation at the Environmental Science Division of Argonne National Laboratory, May 19, 2014, Lemont, IL.


Larson, K. L. 2013. Research findings and lessons about water resource decision making under climatic uncertainty. Presentation at the President’s Dream Course on Sustainability and Global Environmental Change, October 2013, Department of Geography and Environmental Sustainability, University of Oklahoma.

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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., 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., E. Cook, M. Grove, C. Polsky, R. R. Chowdhury, P. Ogden, N. B. Grimm, P. M. Groffman, J. Harrington and J. Zimmerman. 2009. Investigating the social-ecological dynamics of residential landscapes: Insights from a multi-site collaborative workshop. Final report from LTER Workshop, February 18-19, 2009, Global Institute of Sustainability, Arizona State University.

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