Shannon Elizabeth Bell, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Kentucky, recently won the 2013 Robert Boguslaw Award for Technology and Humanism from the Environment and Technology Section of the American Sociological Association. While we like to take general credit for our graduates' accomplishments, in this case her achievement really does result from her studies at Washington and Lee.
Shannon, a 2000 graduate with degrees in biology and religion, took the prize for her article "Feminist Activist Ethnography as Resistance to Neoliberal Lockdowns on Democracy: Exposing Environmental Injustices through Photovoice."
Shannon came up with the idea for Photovoice in 1999, while she was a student intern in West Virginia for W&L's Shepherd Poverty Program. She kicked off the effort in 2008 by providing cameras to 40 women from five communities in southern West Virginia. Since then, the participants have created online essays of photos and text, which you can view on the Photovoice website, which says the project aims "to increase civic engagement in rural coalfield communities and give voice to residents' concerns and ideas for change." We blogged about Shannon's involvement in Photovoice a few years ago.
Shannon, who was a University Scholar here, has compiled a packed academic record since W&L: three master's degrees, a graduate certificate and a Ph.D. This fall, she will add a book to that résumé, "Our Roots Run Deep as Ironweed: Appalachian Women and the Fight for Environmental Justice." You can read more about her research interests and teaching career at her personal website, http://www.shannonelizbell.com/.
Shannon is donating her prize money to the Sludge Safety Project in West Virginia, where locals are working on a moratorium on underground coal-slurry injections. The Boguslaw Award honors work that addresses "the concerns of ordinary people rather than reflecting organizational or institutional agendas," says the American Sociological Association's website.