Meet Michael Bell

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

Michael is the author or editor of eleven books, three of which have won national awards. His most recent book is the 2nd edition of Farming for Us All: Practical Agriculture and the Cultivation of Sustainability (Penn State University Press, 2024). Other recent volumes include Cambridge Handbook of Environmental Sociology (Cambridge, 2020; Legun, Keller, Carolan, and Bell, eds.), the 6th edition of An Invitation to Environmental Sociology (Sage, 2020; Bell, Ashwood, Leslie, and Schlachter), and City of the Good: Nature, Religion, and the Ancient Search for What Is Right (Princeton, 2018). He is currently finishing a book on the sociology of heritage, with Jason Orne and Loka Ashwood, as well as the 7th edition of An Invitation to Environmental Sociology.

Michael serves on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he is the Philip David Lowe and Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of Community and Environmental Sociology; lab lead of the Soil Health and Agroecological Living Lab (SHALL); and an affiliate of the Agroecology Program, the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, and the Religious Studies Program.

Michael is a prolific composer of classical and grassroots music, as well as environmental and progressive song. He recently completed a 45-minute symphony entitled Regeneration, a portion of which will be premiered in 2024 by the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and choreographed and danced by Kanopy Dance Company. He performs regularly on mandolin and banjo with the award-winning “class-grass” band Graminy, and on guitar as a soloist and in the Elm Duo. Discover his composition and performance at his separate music site.

Mike is passionate about progressive politics, their challenges and possibilities. He currently serves on the board of the Dane County Democrats.

Recent Book Releases

Recent Music Releases

Current Projects

Mike’s main current book projects are a book on the social experience of heritage, co-authored with Jason Orne and Loka Ashwood, and a book on the sociology of community. 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 ConFluence, a three-year collaboration with Kanopy Dance Company; recording an album of his solo piano music, performed by Jason Kutz; an environmental opera set in ancient Sumeria; and the Jewish world music band Tsuzamen (no website yet).