New book by Michael Bell explores broken link between religion and agriculture

Michael Bell, director of the UW–Madison Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS) and professor of community and environmental sociology, has authored a book entitled “City of the Good: Nature, Religion, and the Search for What is Right.” Available from Princeton University Press, the book tries to answer the question of why religion largely forgot about agriculture and ecology. The oldest religious traditions had (and have) a strong focus on the challenges of gaining sustenance from the Earth. But Bell says that in their search for the good, Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, and other world faiths took a different path and focused more on the problems of desire; it is time to find a way to join these paths together.

Bell is the Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor in the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology, and is also a member of the faculty of the Agroecology Program, the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, and the Religious Studies Program. He has authored or edited nine books, three of which have won national awards.