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Staff Profile

Professor Sandra Bell, BA, PhD

Senior Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology
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 Groups

Department of Anthropology

Durham Energy Institute

  • Energy Policy Group

Research Projects

Department of Anthropology

  • Integrated Management of European Wetlands

Durham Energy Institute

Research Interests

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

Selected Publications

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.

Edited book

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

Journal Article

  • Setchell, J.M., Fairet, E., Shutt, K., Waters, S. & Bell, S. (2017). Biosocial conservation: integrating biological and ethnographic methods to study human-primate interactions. International Journal of Primatology 38(2): 401-426.
  • Waters, Siân, El Harrad, Ahmed, Chetuan, Mohamed, Bell, Sandra & Setchell, Joanna M. (2017). Dogs disrupting wildlife: Domestic dogs harass and kill Barbary macaques in Bouhachem forest, North Morocco. African Primates in press.
  • Winther, T. & Bell, S. (2017). Domesticating In Home Displays in Selected British and Norwegian Households. Science & Technology Studies
  • Constant, N. & Bell, S. (2016). Governance, participation and local perceptions of protected areas: Unwinding traumatic nature in the Blouberg Mountain Range. Environmental Values
  • Bulkeley, H., Powells, G. & Bell, S. (2016). Smart grids and the constitution of solar electricity conduct. Environment and Planning A 48(1): 7-23.
  • Bell, S., Judson, E., Bulkeley, H., Powells, G., Capova, K. & Lynch, D. (2015). Sociality and electricity in the United Kingdom: The influence of household dynamics on everyday consumption. Energy Research & Social Science 9: 98-106.
  • Judson, Ellis P., Bell, Sandra, Bulkeley, Harriet, Powells, Gareth & Lyon, Stephen M. (2015). The co-construction of energy provision and everyday practice: integrating heat pumps in social housing in England. Science & Technology Studies 28(3): 28-53.
  • Constant, N.L., Bell, S. & Hill, R.A. (2015). The impacts, characterisation and management of human-leopard conflict in a multi-use land system in South Africa. Biodiversity and Conservation 24(12): 2967-2989.
  • Fairet, E., Bell, S., Remanda, K. & Setchell, J.M. (2014). Rural emptiness and its influence on subsistence farming in contemporary Gabon: A case study in Loango National Park. Society, Biology and Human Affairs 78(1-2): 39-59.
  • Knight, D. & Bell, S. (2013). Pandora's Box: photovoltaic energy and economic crisis in Greece. Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy 5(3): 033110.
  • Adams, A., Taylor, P. & Bell, S. (2012). Equity Dimensions of Micro-generation: A whole systems approach. Journal of Renewable Sustainable Energy 4(5): 053122.
  • van Assche, K., Bell, S. & Teampau, P. (2012). Traumatic Nature of the Swamp: Concepts of Nature in the Romanian Danube Delta. Environmental Values 21(2): 163-183.
  • Bell, S., Reinert, H., Cent, J., Grodzińska-Jurczak, M., Kobierska, H., Podjed, D. & Vanzinskaite, D. (2011). Volunteers on the political anvil: citizenship and volunteer biodiversity monitoring in three post communist countries. Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy 29(1): 170-185.
  • Bell, S., Hampshire, K. & Tonder, M. (2008). Person, Place and Knowledge in the Conservation of the Saimaa Ringed Seal. Society and Natural Resources 21(4): 277-293.
  • Bell, S., Marzano, M., Cent, J., Kobierska, H., Podjed, D., Vandzinskaite, D., Reinert, H., Armaitiene, A., Grodzinska-Jurczak, M. & Mursic, R. (2008). What Counts? Volunteers and their organisations in the recording and monitoring of biodiversity. Biodiversity and Conservation 17(14): 3443-3454.
  • Bell, S., Hampshire, K. & Topalidou, S. (2007). The Political Culture of Poaching: A case study from Northern Greece. Biodiversity and Conservation 16(2): 399-418.
  • Marzano, M., Carss, D. & Bell, S. (2006). Working to Make Interdisciplinarity Work: Investing in Communication and Interpersonal Relationships. Journal of Agricultural Economics 57(2): 185-197.
  • Hampshire, K., Bell, S., Wallace, G. & Stepukonis, F. (2004). 'Real' poachers and predators: shades of meaning in local understandings of threats to fisheries. Society & Natural Resources 17(4): 305-318.
  • Bell, S. (2000). Being Creative with Tradition: Rooting Theravada Buddhism in Britain. Journal of Global Buddhism 1: 1-15.
  • Bell, S. (1998). 'Crazy Wisdom', Charisma and the Transmission of Buddhism in the United States. Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions 2(1): 55-76.
  • Bell, S. (1998). British Theravada Buddhism: Otherworldly Theories and the Theory of Exchange. Journal of Contemporary Religion 13(2): 149-170.
  • Bell, S. (1996). Change and Identity in the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order. Scottish Journal of Religious Studies
  • Bell, S. (1994). Practice Makes Perfect: Symbolic Behaviour and Experience in Western Buddhism. DISKUS 2(2).

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Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Ethics: environmental anthropology/European wetlands
  • Religion: Buddhism in Britain