kunz from Sierra Nevada pass 

Michael Kunz

The landscapes of California have shaped me. I grew up in California's San Joaquin Valley, My second-floor bedroom window in Visalia faced east toward the snowy peaks of Sequoia Park's Sierra Nevada and I have been drawn to them ever since.

My interests: A brief catalog of interests include : backpacking, hiking, distance running, and other forms of movement by non-motorized power; travel; sustainable living; stories, especially the big history of humanity, life, the universe, and everything; science and faith; California native plants in the wild or in the garden; anything Sierran; beauty.

My educational background: My formal education has been contained within California's great Central Valley: schooling in Clovis and Visalia, followed by study of wildlife biology and zoology at the University of California at Davis. After an overseas hiatus, I took up a M.A. in Biology at C.S.U. Sacramento, with enlightened conversion to the beauty of field botany midway through my study. My formal education culminated in a return to U.C. Davis for Ph.D. in Ecology, with emphases in plant ecology, community ecology, and physiological ecology.

My professional journey: Following my undergraduate experience at Davis, I sought out an opportunity to serve overseas with Peace Corps. I landed in a small school in rural Swaziland in southern Africa where, for over two years, I taught middle school science. Upon return to California, I found middle-school science teaching at a Catholic school to be a challenge, but relished assisting college instruction. As I completed my Ph.D. requirements, a position opened as pretty much the entire Biology Department at then Fresno Pacific College. I established the Biology and Environmental majors there. With the college's evolution into a larger Fresno Pacific University, I have been fortunate to focus on subjects that more closely intersect with my passions, loves, and personal mission. 

My spiritual formation: The streams of a dozen spiritual watersheds flow into the river of life I now inhabit. I was raised on a Lutheran diet heavy with God's grace and coffee fellowship. My teen-age imagination was kindled by Tolkein's Lord of the Rings and viewing life as a great quest, followed later by doubt and Kierkegaard's existential leap of faith. Significant college influences included wrestling with Bonhoffer & the cost of discipleship, and Intervarsity Christian Fellowship emphases on shared life, bible study & mission. Serving with Peace Corp in Africa helped my expanding worldview to gel, shaped later by Thomas Merton & Catholic mysticism and Anabaptism & Mennonite embodied community faith. Among the many subsequent writers to impct me have been Jim Wallis, Ian Barbour, Ched Myers, Matthew Fox, and Richard Rohr. With John Muir, I affirm "When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe," so I want my spirit to be as ecological and evolutionary as the universe it inhabits.

My personality: According to Myers-Briggs, I am an "INTP." As much as I love company, solitude recharges my batteries more than crowds (I = Introvert). The world of ideas fascinates me more than concrete minutia (N = INtuitive). While I believe that emphathy is our great calling, I arrived at that conviction by thinking through all the options (T = Thinking). I throw myself into projects, but too often get distracted by the next one before the last is completed (P = Perceiving). I think I land on the Enneagram as a type one (the reformer) with a nine wing (the peacemaker) though there has always been a chord of type five (the investigator).

My personal mission statement: I commit to understand and live God’s shalom, particularly as it relates to developing sustainable local and global relations with the environment. I seek to do so informed by current science, historic and contemporary Christian understandings, and direct encounter with creation. I do so with the hope of encouraging others to make common journey with me and develop their own informed commitments.

My family: Married since 1981 to Ellen, followed by a pair of children, their spouses, and a pair of grandchildren. The broader family on both sides includes dozens of wonderful and amazing people, every one of whom I sincerely appreciate and admire.

My proudest accomplishments: Service with Peace Corps in Africa; qualifying for, and running in, the Boston Marathon several times; my book Muir's Temples: A Natural History of Sequoia Grove Plants, which explores the intersection of botany, natural history, human history and conservation.




Contact me at Michael.Kunz@fresno.edu or mkunz@fresno.edu