Kimberly Kirner

Kimberly Kirner
Full-Time Faculty
(818) 677-5839
Office location:
Sierra Hall, Room 240G




  • Ph.D., 2007 University of California, Riverside
  • M.A., 2003 University of California, Riverside
  • B.A., 2001 University of California, Riverside

Courses Taught

  • ANTH 222, Visions of the Sacred
  • ANTH 302, Introduction to Applied Anthropology
  • ANTH 345, Diversity in the United States
  • ANTH 432, Environmental Justice and Health
  • ANTH 475, Anthropological Research Methods
  • ANTH 608, Issues in Applied Anthropology

Selected Recent Publications

2016  Pursuing the Salmon of Wisdom: The Sacred in Folk Botanical Knowledge among Modern Druids.  Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature, and Culture 9(4): 448-482.

2016  Cognitive Anthropology and Cultural Modeling.  Helen Kopnina and Eleanor Shoreman-Ouimet, Eds.  In Routledge Handbook of Environmental Anthropology.  New York: Routledge.  Pp. 428-440.

2015  Healing Community: Pagan Models and Experiences in Seeking Well Being.  Pomegranate: The International Journal for Pagan Studies 16(1): 80 108.

2015  The Cultural Heritage of Family Ranches.  Rangelands 37(2): 85-89.

2010 Case Study: Eastern Sierras Corridor Ranchers. In An Introduction to Cultural Ecology, 2nd edition by Mark Sutton and E.N. Anderson.

Selected Recent Presentations

2016  Community and Institutional Responses to Environmental Change: Conflict over Cause, Impact, and Response.  Paper presented at the Society for Applied Anthropology meeting.  Vancouver, BC, Canada, March 29-April 2.

2016  Interdisciplinary, Collaborative, and Mixed Methods to Investigate Environmental Change and Its Impacts on Communities.  Paper presented at the Society for Anthropological Sciences meeting.  Vancouver, BC, Canada, March 29-April 2.

2015  Policy, Folk Knowledge, and Conflict: Responses to Climate Change in the Eastern Sierra, California.  Paper presented at the American Anthropological Association meeting.  Denver, CO, November 18-22.

2015  Spiritual Identity in Non-Exclusive Communities: Cafeteria Religion or Fusion Culinary Art?  Paper presented at the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion meeting.  Newport Beach, CA, October 23-25.

2015  “Knowing is from the Old People”: Stories of Water, Place, and Climate Change.  Paper presented at the Society for Ethnobiology meeting.  Santa Barbara, CA, May 6-9.

2014  Honoring Nature: Contemporary Animist Paganisms and Practical Dimensions of Sustainability.  Co-authored with graduate student Garrett Sadler.  Paper presented at the American Academy of Religion meeting.  San Diego, CA, November 22-25.

Research and Interests

5 keywords that describe your topical areas of specialization:
Environmental anthropology; ethnoecology; applied cognitive anthropology; anthropology of religion; medical anthropology

Geographic areas of specialization: 
United States; minority religious traditions; urban-wildlands interface; rural agricultural communities; Pagan Studies

Current Projects:

Perceptions of and Responses to Climate Change
Since 2012, I have primarily focused my studies on how diverse stakeholder communities in both rural and urban areas of the United States perceive long-term environmental change, share information about it with others, form models of environmental change and climate change, and respond to such change.  Major emphases within this program have been: 1) interdisciplinary ways to model environmental change (and human perception of it) over time and 2) interdisciplinary ways to model and then mitigate against climate change and its negative health impacts in urban areas.  This research was funded by the National Science Foundation Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems program from 2013-2016.  My current project focuses on urban heat island effects and culturally sensitive climate change mitigation planning in Los Angeles as part of the Urban Cooling Research Partnership.

Contemporary Movements in Spirituality and Sustainability
Another major thrust of my research in the last several years has been exploring relationships between contemporary eco-centric and animist spiritual movements and household-level actions toward environmental sustainability.  I have been primarily interested in how eco-centric spiritual communities and social networks may shift individuals’ dialogues, motivations, learning processes, and actions with regard to the environment.  I am also interested in understanding the limitations of such movements in the face of broader social, economic, and political trends.

Health and Healing among Religious Minorities
I began focusing on how persons of minority religious traditions navigate health care systems in 2010 with the Pagan Health Survey project, a mixed methods study of Pagan models of health and healing, care-seeking behavior, and disparities in experiences. The Pagan Health Survey 2012 yielded data that is still being explored on how stigma, particularly how the combination of disability, chronic illness, or mental health challenges with minority religious affiliation, affects patient care-seeking behavior and health outcomes.  A new iteration of the Pagan Health Survey is likely to be released in 2017 with the intent of understanding how the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) affected care-seeking behavior.

Program Evaluation
I function as an external evaluator for a limited number of programs provided by non-profit organizations and local government agencies.  These have primarily been programs that provide Federally- or State-funded social or educational services, particularly for vulnerable populations.  My specializations in program evaluation include qualitative and mixed methods evaluations and working with community-based organizations to improve programmatic outcomes and reduce disparities across diverse populations they serve.

Personal Bio Statement

I grew up fascinated with other cultures and nature so I suppose it was inevitable that I would eventually become a cultural anthropologist. Yet, I initially began my B.S. in Biomedical Sciences, intending to become a surgeon. During volunteering in a hospice program for terminally ill women with no surviving family, I realized I was much more interested in my patients' stories and the impact of social systems on the human experience than I was in my patients as medical cases. I found anthropology to offer the most compelling union of social and natural sciences, and eventually received my doctorate from University of California Riverside in 2007.

As an applied anthropologist, my research primarily focuses on using anthropological approaches, theories, and methods to work toward solving environmental problems and related issues in human well-being and health. More specifically, my research is in the application of cognitive anthropology (decision-making studies, cultural model theory, ethnoscience) to critical policy and systems studies. I am interested in the relationships between cultural knowledge systems, identity and community, and behavior.  My research has focused on the political ecology of the American West and the medical anthropology of minority religious traditions in the United States. In addition to my academic work, I have worked as a practicing anthropologist in program design, evaluation, and fund development. When not working, I can be found riding my horses, hiking, and creating visual art.