Lauren Richter

Lauren Richter is a sociologist who studies social inequality, health and the environment. She uses qualitative interviews, ethnography and archival approaches to broadly examine responses to adverse environmental health impacts. She focuses on US regulatory frameworks and scientific knowledge/ignorance production to understand how inequality shapes pollution exposure and recourse. Her research and teaching are inspired by critical race theory, environmental justice, science and technology studies and environmental sociology.

Richter has published in Environmental Sociology, Environmental Health, Environmental Science & Technology, Social Studies of Science, Organization & Environment, the American Journal of Public Health and the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology. In 2016 she co-founded the Racial Equity Task Force for the American Sociological Association Section on Environmental Sociology and in 2018 co-organized the Bridging the Gap: Race and Environment conference at Temple University. She is currently guest editing a special collection on race and the environment for Environmental Sociology. In the past year, Richter has provided expert testimony in hearings on three proposed bills related to PFAS chemical regulation in the Rhode Island State House.

Prior to joining RISD, Richter was the recipient of a Leadership Grant from the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation, spending a year as a research fellow at the Silent Spring Institute and Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute at Northeastern University. Between MA and PhD degrees, she worked at the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment in California and taught courses on Environmental Justice at the University of San Francisco. In 2018 Richter completed a two-year certification program in anti-racist mindful facilitation, studying with Rainbow Markell and Lee Mun Wah in Berkeley, CA

Academic areas of interest


  • Environmental justice and health
  • Environmental sociology
  • Critical race theory
  • Social movements and backlash
  • Sociology of ignorance, denial and apathy
  • The corporate form
  • Privilege and consumption


Fall 2021

HPSS-S735-01 Environmental Justice and Injustice
HPSS-S735-02 Environmental Justice and Injustice

Spring 2022

HPSS-S101-07 Topics: History, Philosophy, & The Social Sciences
HPSS-S101-08 Topics: History, Philosophy, & The Social Sciences
NCSS-798G-01 Prospectus Seminar