Professor of the Practice of Environmental Studies


J.D., Cornell University

Field of Specialty

Environmental Justice, Environmental Law and Policy, Environmental Sustainability

Contact Information

Rabb Graduate Center 347

Laura J Goldin

Laura Goldin is Professor of the Practice of Environmental Studies at Brandeis University, Associate Director of the Environmental Studies Program, Director of the Environmental Internship Program and an award-winning teacher. Her courses and intensive programs have helped lead the way in hands-on experiential learning grounded in meaningful outcomes in the and building relationships in the community. Her courses and programs engage students directly in tackling critical environmental justice issues in collaboration with low income, disenfranchised communities and partners, including working with local non-profits and residents to assess and reduce lead exposures in low income housing, potential toxic exposures to nail and hair salon workers, create public housing and school gardens with local children, teachers and community residents, and engage with students in other research and improvements to promote environmental health, expand access to healthy food, open space, fair and safe housing and other aspects of community sustainability and social justice. In Goldin’s “Greening the Ivory Tower” course, students design and implement projects to address climate change impact and enhance the overall community environment, such as the Brandeis Rooftop Farm http://www.brandeis.edu/programs/environmental/undergrad/greeningcourse/index.html, solar charging tables as recharging workspace and community spaces https://www.brandeis.edu/programs/environmental/undergrad/greeningcourse/solarTable.html and Greener Dining https://www.brandeis.edu/programs/environmental/undergrad/greeningcourse/GreenerDining.html.
Professor Goldin offers the immersive Environmental Health and Justice Community Field Semester, a hands-on, multi-disciplinary, community-engaged learning program. http://www.brandeis.edu/jbs/pastprograms/f2011/index.html
In this program, a small group of students delve into the law, policy, social impacts and science of current environmental justice and health issues challenging individuals, families and communities today. They work directly with communities most vulnerable and affected, from low-income immigrant neighborhoods in urban Boston and Waltham to rural mountain mining townships of Kentucky suffering the effects of mountaintop removal for coal extraction. The students also conduct an environmental health study of major environmental justice concern in partnership with the affected groups. The 2011 and 2013 program studies assessed potential toxic exposures to the primarily Vietnamese immigrants nail salon workers in the Boston area. Both studies were presented at the Academy of Sciences International Conference on Environmental Science and Technology in 2012 and 2014, respectively, the American Industrial Hygiene Conference & Exposition 2014 and widely presented locally, regionally and nationally. So far the first study was published http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10903-013-9856-y. and continues to be broadly and frequently cited. It also was influential in initiating new nail salon regulations in Boston.

The 2015 Environmental Health and Justice program studied for the first time the potential toxic exposure to hair treatment products targeted to women of color. Our partners included Black Women for Wellness http://www.bwwla.org/ and other women of color health organizations, EPA Region 1, Boston Public Health Commission, Clean Water Action, Toxics Use Reduction Institute and others. The study results raised issues of significant health concern, and has been presented in forums including the 2016 Academy of Sciences International Conference on Environmental Science and Technology. See for example: http://www.brandeis.edu/programs/environmental/news/blackhairstudy.html to the Boston area Women of Color Environmental Health Conference.

In 2007 Goldin established with her students the Brandeis/WATCH Housing Advocacy Clinic http://www.brandeis.edu/programs/environmental/undergrad/clinic.html, a free, twice weekly drop in service for the local low income and immigrant community. The Clinic educates and assists clients address environmentally high-risk living conditions prevalent in low-income housing including lead exposure and mold, access to vouchers for fresh local produce, helps prevent evictions and homelessness, and helps individuals and families deal with issues of discrimination and harassment. It typically provides the first critical point of contact for many in need, offering referral to a wide range of services from financial, food and fuel assistance to medical care and English language classes. The Clinic, led by Goldin and hundreds of trained student advocates from her classes and internships, has helped over 2500 individuals and families over the eleven bustling years of its ongoing operation. The Housing Clinic quickly became an integral program at WATCH http://watchcdc.org/clinic and has received civic engagement and other awards over the years.

Ms. Goldin came to Brandeis with more than 20 years’ experience as an environmental attorney in government, industry, public interest, and private law practice. Her work has addressed a broad spectrum of environmental issues, from hazardous waste and air and water pollution to occupational health and safety, toxic exposure, and land use regulation. She has argued precedent-setting environmental case law, and has helped to craft a number of emerging environmental protection laws and regulations. She continues to consult pro bono on a number of environmental justice, wetlands protection, land preservation and other matters. Prior to Brandeis, Laura served as General Counsel for the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, where she was the chief environmental lawyer for the state agency and managed an office of 50 attorneys and administrative law judges. She received her B.A. from Yale University and her J.D. from Cornell and Harvard Law Schools.


Goldin, Laura J. Occupational Exposure to Chemicals in Nail Salons. Proc. of American Academy of Sciences Seventh International Conference on Environmental Science and Technology. Houston, Texas: Conference Proceedings, Abstract, 2014. (forthcoming)

Goldin, Laura J. Assessing Occupational Exposure in Black Hair Salons. Proc. of American Academy of Sciences Eighth International Conference on Environmental Science and Technology. Houston, Texas: Conference Proceedings, 2016.

Goldin, Laura J. Survey of Indoor Air Quality in Black Women’s Hair Salons in Boston. Proc. of Academy of Sciences International Conference on Environmental Science and Technology 2016. Houston, Texas: American Science Press, 2016, Houston, USA. (ISBN 978-5-5323-2259-4), 2016.

Goldin, Laura J. "Indoor Air Quality Survey of Nail Salons in Boston." Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health June 2013. June 2013 (2013): <http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10903-013-9856-y#>.

Goldin, Laura J. "WATCH Housing Advocacy Clinic: Serving Community Needs." Civic Engagement Nov/Dec 2011 (2012): pg. 22.

Goldin, Laura J. Air Quality Survey of Boston Nail Salons. Proc. of Academy of Sciences 2012 International Conference of Environmental Science and Technology. Houston Texas: Academy of Sciences, 2012.

Courses Taught

AMST 102aj Environment, Social Justice, and Empowerment
AMST 191b Greening the Ivory Tower: Improving Environmental Sustainability of Brandeis and Community
BISC 6bj Environmental Health
EL 30b Housing for Good: Environmentally Healthy, Socially Just
EL 94a Experiential Learning Practicum
ENVS 43b Visions of the American Environment, Images to Action
ENVS 89a Environmental Internship
ENVS 102aj Field Research and Study Methods: Environmental Health
ENVS/THA 141a Visions of Nature and Environmental Theater: Books, Film, Performance and Activism