Meet Michael Bell

Michael BellMichael Bell is a scholar, author, and composer, as well as a performing musician.

Mike is the author or editor of ten books, three of which have won national awards. His most recent book, City of the Good: Nature, Religion, and the Ancient Search for What Is Right, was published in February of 2018 by Princeton University Press.

Mike is a prolific composer of grassroots and classical music, as well as environmental and progressive song.  He performs regularly on mandolin and banjo with the award-winning “class-grass” band Graminy, and on guitar as a singer-songwriter.

Mike serves on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he is Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of Community and Environmental SociologyDirector of the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, and a member of the faculty of the Agroecology Program, the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, and the Religious Studies Program.

Mike is passionate about progressive politics, their challenges and possibilities. He serves on the board of the Dane County Democrats, and also volunteers with Our Wisconsin Revolution and the Madtown O’s.

Recent Book Releases

An Invitation to Environmental Sociology  

(Sage, 2016, 5th Edition)

More Books

Current Projects

Mike’s main current book projects are The Cambridge Handbook of Environmental Sociology, in two volumes, edited by Katharine Legun, Julie Keller, Michael M. Bell, and Michael S. Carolan; a book on the sociology of community; and a book on the social experience of heritage. When no one is looking, he is also writing a novel set in Mexico in two time periods roughly a thousand years apart: the 900s and the 1890s to early 1900s.

Since 2009, Mike has been involved in participatory fieldwork with the amaXhosa people of the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, as part of the LAND (Livelihoods, Agroecology, Nutrition, and Development) Project.

His current musical projects include a new outpouring of political songs and a fourth class-grass album with his band Graminy. He is also trying to complete a symphony (possibly) and several suites for classical piano (more likely).

Samples of Mike’s Compositions

Latest News

402, 2018

City of the Good is now published!

February 4th, 2018|0 Comments

My new book, City of the Good: Nature, Religion, and the Ancient Search for What Is Right, has just been released by Princeton University Press! This one took me 7 years, but I learned so [...]

2211, 2016

Graminy wins a second Classical Album of the Year Award!

November 22nd, 2016|0 Comments

The Madison Area Music Association has awarded my band Graminy its second Classical Album of the Year Award, for our 2015 release, Dance of the Plants. We won our first for our 2013 release, Germinations: A Bluegrass [...]

2911, 2015

Hey, now the new album IS done! Goes on sale Dec. 5, 2015

November 29th, 2015|0 Comments

  Well, Graminy's finally gone and done it!  We finished our third album, Dance of the Plants. It's a collection of Graminy tunes more on the grassy side of class-grass.  We're really pleased with how it [...]

2110, 2015

Graminy’s new album is almost done too!

October 21st, 2015|0 Comments

My band Graminy's new album, Dance of the Plants, is now being mastered, and it sounds great!  Look for it in time for Christmas.