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Contact Information

Salisbury Laboratories, 310E
Phone: +1-508-831-5452
Fax: +1-508-831-5896

Laureen Elgert

Laureen's interest in environmental studies grew as she traveled through Southeast Asia and South America, noticing that local resource users' idea of environmentalism often bore little resemblance to familiar interpretations. She has since been particularly interested in the environment-development nexus, examining how politics shapes global environmental policy that can, and often does, have profound impacts on local livelihoods.

Laureen has worked in a UNESCO Man and Biosphere Site in the Interior Atlantic Forest (Paraguay), where she helped facilitate the emergence of local and regional governance institutions. She has researched environmental politics in the context of soy production in South America, with particular focus on the development of ‘sustainable soy’ certification criteria. She has also worked in teams involved in landscape and land-use modeling. Up-and-coming research will involve developing a social science-based, policy-relevant approach to developing and implementing indicators of sustainable development.

Laureen began teaching environmental studies at WPI in 2011. In the classroom, she enjoys the challenge of inspiring learning and intellectual development, while helping students develop the skills required to achieve good outcomes. Encouraging debate and discussion in class, and using real-world cases are both key to Laureen's teaching philosophy.

Research Interests

  • Environment and Development
  • Sustainable Development
  • Interpretive/Critical Policy Analysis
  • Governance
  • Science and Technology Studies


  • BA, Trent University, 1999
  • MSc, University of Alberta, 2003
  • PhD, London School of Economics, 2011

Featured Publications

  • 2014  Elgert, L.  Governing portable conservation and development landscapes: Reconsidering evidence in the context of the Mbaracayú Biosphere Reserve, Evidence and Policy, 10(2): 205-222. 
  • 2013  Elgert, L.  Hard facts and software: The coproduction of indicators in a land use planning model, Environmental values, 22(6): 765-786. 
  • 2012  Elgert, L. Can ‘responsible’ soy production justify the concentration of land in Paraguay? A critical analysis of the claims about environmental, economic and social sustainability, Land Deal Politics Initiative working paper: http://www.cornell-landproject.org/download/landgrab2012papers/elgert.pdf
  • 2012  Elgert, L. & Krueger, R.  Modernizing sustainable development?  Standardization, evidence and experts in local indicator development, Local Environment, 17(5): 561-571. 
  • 2011 Elgert, L. Certified discourse? The politics of developing soy certification standards. Geoforum, doi: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2011.08.008.
  • 2010 Elgert, L. Certified community development? Local participation in developing environmental certification standards, in Deliberations in Community development: Balancing on the edge, Rothe, P & Carroll, L & Ozegovic, D (Eds.). Hauppage, New York: Nova Science Publishers.
  • 2009 Elgert, L. Politicizing sustainable development: the co-production of globalized evidence-based policy, in Critical Policy Studies, 3(3-4): 375-390.

Professional Highlights

  • 2011 Land Deal Politics Initiative small grant (ISS, Erasmus University, Rotterdam), $3000
  • 2008 Visiting Research Scholar, Universidad Torcuato di Tella, Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • 2008 Abbey / Grupo Santander Travel Research Grant, £2500
  • 2004-2008 Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Doctoral Scholarship, $80,000
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