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Durham University

Department of Anthropology


Professor Sandra Bell, BA, PhD

Member of Durham Energy Institute Advisory Board in the Durham Energy Institute

(email at


Sandra Bell is an environmental anthropologists working on energy related issues and biodiversity conservation. She has previously published on religion and conducted research on the development of Buddhism in Britain for her PhD. Sandra is interested in interdisciplinary research and with Prof Veronica Strang has devised a workshop and associated publication to facilitate research across disciplines (The Institute of Advanced Study).

In 2013 Dr. Bell was awarded the university’s award for Excellence in Doctoral supervision.

Research Projects

  • 2016-2019: PEOple-centred developments and approaches in Practical Learning Environments (PEOPLE)
  • 2016-2017: Forging Pathways to warm and healthy homes for vulnerable households in the London Borough of Haringey
  • 2015-2018: Power from the People? Driving forces and hindrances to becoming a prosumer of electricity in Norway
  • 2014-2015: Energy Savings: from regulation to realisation (Norway)
  • 2010-2013: Co-investigator Customer Led Network Revolution: Smartgrid electricity and new energy practices. Funded by Ofgem.
  • 2011-2012: Co-investigator ESRC Impact Award: Assessing energy vulnerability and equity at the community-scale: developing lessons with communities and stakeholders.
  • 2009-2012: Work Package Leader for Whole-systems Equity Analysis of Building Integrated Photovoltaics for IncluESEV - Interdisciplinary Cluster on Energy Systems, Equity and Vulnerability. Bringing together expertise and research activity from across a diversity of energy, climate change and environment funding programmes.
  • 2004 - 2008: Social ScienceWork Package Leader for an EU Sixth Framework Programme project - EuMon: EU Wide Monitoring Methods and Systems of Surveillance for Species and Habitats of Community Interest. Working with ecologists and managing social science teams in UK, Lithuania, Poland and Slovenia to research the role of volunteers in biodiversity monitoring across EU members states.
  • 2004 – 2005: Principle Investigator Calming Troubled Waters: Making Interdisciplinarity Work funded by the UK ESRC’s Rural and Land Use Programme.
  • 2001-2004: EU Fifth Framework Funded Project Integrated Management of European Wetlands (IMEW). Principle Investigator for this international multidisciplinary project located in the Danube Delta, Romania; the Nemunas Delta, Lithuania; the Saamai Lakes, Finland and Kerkini Lake, northern Greece. 

Research Interests

  • Environmental anthropology
  • European wetlands
  • Interdisciplinarity
  • Socio-technical systems of energy
  • Western Buddhism

Selected Publications

Edited book

  • Sobo, E.J. & Bell, S. (2001). Celibacy, Culture and Society: The anthropology of sexual abstinence. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.

Chapter in book

  • Bell, S. (2016). Community Energy in the UK. In Delivering Energy Law and Policy in the EU and the US: A Reader. Heffron, R. & Little, G.F.M. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. 562-566.
  • Bulkeley, H., Powells, G. & Bell, S. (2014). Smart grids and the governing of energy use: Reconfiguring practices?. In Social practices, interventions and sustainability: Beyond behaviour change. Strengers, Y. & Maller, C. Routledge. 112-126.
  • Bell, S., Marzano, M. & Podjed, D. (2010). Inside Monitoring: a comparison of bird monitoring groups in Slovenia and the United Kingdom. In Taking stock of nature: Participatory biodiversity assessment for policy, planning and practice. Lawrence, A. Cambridge University Press. 232-250.
  • Carss, D. Bell, S. & Marzano, M. (2009). Competing and Coexisting with Cormorants: Ambiguity and change in European wetlands. In Landscape, Power and Process: Re-evaluating traditional environmental knowledge. Heckler, S. Oxford: Berghahn.
  • Bell, S. & Reinert, H. (2009). On the Outside Looking In: Biodiversity and the algebra of life. In MESS and RAMSES II, Vol. 7, Mediterranean Ethnological Summer School. Repic, J., Bartulovic, A. Sajovec Altshul, K. & Pasanovic, E. Ljubljana Ljubljana Znanstvena zalozba Filozofske fakultete. 7: 327-342.
  • Bell, S. (2002). Scandals in Emerging Western Buddhism. In Westward Dharma: Buddhism Beyond Asia. Prebish, C.S. & Baumann, M. Berkeley: University of California Press. 230-242.
  • Bell, S. & Sobo, E.J. (2001). Celibacy in Cross-Cultural Perspective: An Overview. In Celibacy, Culture and Society: The anthropology of sexual abstinence. Sobo, E. & Bell, S. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. 3-26.
  • Bell, S. (2001). Nature and Gender in Theravada Buddhism. In Women as Sacred Custodians of the Earth? Women, Spirituality, and the Environment. Low, A. & Tremayne, S. Oxford: Berghahn. 175-192.
  • Bell, S. (2000). A Survey of Engaged Buddhism in Britain. In Engaged Buddhism in the West. Queen, C. Boston: Wisdom. 397-422.
  • Bell, S. & Coleman, S. (1999). The Anthropology of Friendship: Enduring Themes and Future Possibilities. In The Anthropology of Friendship. Bell, S. & Coleman, S. Oxford: Berg. 1-20.

Journal Article

Show all publications

Research Groups

Department of Anthropology

Durham Energy Institute

  • Energy Policy Group

Research Projects

Department of Anthropology

  • Integrated Management of European Wetlands

Durham Energy Institute

Selected Grants

  • 2010: Demand Side Management and Risk (studentship) (£25722.50 from Northern Powergrid)
  • 2007: PARTNERSHIPS IN SCIENCE (£250.00 from British Council (Slovenia))
  • 2004: CALMING TROUBLED WATERS (£21047.80 from ESRC)
  • 2004: EUMON (£95900.00 from European Commission)
  • 2001: IMEW (£264425.66 from European Commission)
  • 1999: DANUBE DELTA (£2500.00 from )
  • 2016: PEOple-Centred development approaches in Practical and Learning Environments (PEOPLE) (£93013.36 from European Commission)