Shannon Elizabeth Bell

  • Assistant Professor of Sociology
  • Co-Director, Greenhouse Environment & Sustainability Residential College
  • American Studies
  • Appalachian Center
  • Environmental and Sustainability Studies
  • Gender and Women's Studies
  • Sociology
1567 Patterson Office Tower
Research Interests:

Ph.D., Sociology, University of Oregon, 2010 Graduate Certificate in Women’s & Gender Studies, University of Oregon, 2010


Dr. Bell is an assistant professor of Sociology and is a core faculty member in the Environmental & Sustainability Studies Program. She is also affiliated with the Gender & Women's Studies Department, the Appalachian Studies Program, and the American Studies Program. Dr. Bell's research falls at the intersection of environmental sociology, gender, and social movements. Her primary focus has been understanding the ways in which environmentally-destructive industries acquire, maintain, and exercise their power and discovering strategies for increasing the political participation of local citizens who are most affected by environmental injustices. Feminist insights about the gendered nature of power, social practices, structures, and identities inform her theoretical and methodological approaches. Dr. Bell’s award-winning first book, Our Roots Run Deep as Ironweed: Appalachian Women and the Fight for Environmental Justice was published with the University of Illinois Press in 2013.

Dr. Bell’s recent research has focused on the power of the coal industry and the ways in which the social and environmental impacts of this industry have affected communities, social movement participation, and the individual lives of residents living in the coal-mining region of Central Appalachia. In a recent project, she used the participatory action research method of “Photovoice” to study the barriers to local participation in the environmental justice movement in southern West Virginia. More about this research project can be found at and She is also one of the Co-Directors for the Greenhouse Environment and Sustainability Residential College, the wedsite for which can be found at

Dr. Bell's book is the recipient of the 2014 Association for Humanist Sociology Book Award, a Silver Medal fromi the Nautilus Book Awards, and was Runner-Up at the Green Book Festival in the General Non-Fiction category. In 2013 Dr. Bell won the Practice and Outreach Award from the Environment & Technology Section of the American Sociological Association for her commitment to community-engaged scholarship. She is also the recipient of the Robert Boguslaw Award for Technology and Humanism (2013), the University of Kentucky College of Arts & Sciences Outstanding Teaching Award (2013),  the Best Article Award from the Rural Sociological Society (2011), Honorable Mention for the Allan Schnaiberg Outstanding Publication Award from the Environment & Technology Section of the American Sociological Association (2011), and her dissertation received the only Honorable Mention for the Council of Graduate Schools/ProQuest International Distinguished Dissertation Award in the Social Sciences for dissertations completed between 2010-2012.

Selected Publications: 


Bell, Shannon Elizabeth. Our Roots Run Deep as Ironweed: Women and the Fight for Environmental Justice in the Appalachian Coalfields. (Forthcoming, University of Illinois Press).

Bell, Shannon Elizabeth. Fighting King Coal: The Barriers to Grassroots Environmental Justice Movement Participation in Central Appalachia. Book manuscript under review.


Bell, Shannon Elizabeth and Richard York. 2010. “Community Economic Identity: The Coal Industry and Ideology Construction in West Virginia.” Rural Sociology. 75(1):111-143.

  • Received the inaugural “Best Scholarly Paper Award” from the Rural Sociological Society in 2011.
  • Received Honorable Mention for the 2011 Allan Schnaiberg Outstanding Publication Award from the Environment and Technology Section of the American Sociological Society.

Bell, Shannon Elizabeth and Yvonne A. Braun. 2010. "Coal, Identity, and the Gendering of Environmental Justice Activism in Central Appalachia."  Gender & Society. 24(6): 794-813.

  • Featured in “Discoveries: New and Noteworthy Social Research” in the Summer 2011 issue of Contexts,  the American Sociological Association’s public outreach journal.

Bell, Shannon Elizabeth. 2009. “‘There Ain’t No Bond in Town Like there Used to Be’: The Destruction of Social Capital in the West Virginia Coalfields.” Sociological Forum. 24(3): 631-657.

Bell, Shannon Elizabeth. 2008. “Photovoice as a Strategy for Community Organizing in the Appalachian Coalfields.” Journal of Appalachian Studies. 14(1-2):34-48.

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