Laura Westra did her undergraduate and graduate work in philosophy, and she received her Ph.D. from the University of Toronto in 1983. IN 2005 she received her second Ph.D. in Jurisprudence at Osgoode Hall Law School, and her new doctoral thesis was published in 2004. She is the founder of the Global Ecological Integrity Group (GEIG), and has organized several conferences of that group in conjunction with the IUCN Commission on Law and Environment (CEL), Special Ethics Group (ESG), to which she belongs for the last five years. She is also the co-chair of the IUCN-CEL Specialist Indigenous Peoples Group with John Scott. She has been reinstated at the University of Windsor, Faculty of Law, in 2008. She is teaching Environmental Law in 2009.
She has held offices/served in the International Society for Environmental Ethics, the science for Peace Group, the Occupational Ethics Group, the Society for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology (Ontario), the York centre for Applied Sustainability. She is on the Editorial Board of many philosophical and scientific journals, including Environmental Ethics, Environmental Values, the Journal of Ecosystem Health and Global Bioethics. She has been a member of many boards and committees, including the IUCN Commission for Environmental Strategy and Planning, the NSERC/SSHRC Board, the NSF (USA), and the Planning and Implementation Group for the Earth Charter. She is a member of the IUCN Committee on Environment and Law (CEL) Ethics Specialist Group, and co-chair of the Specialist Indigenous Peoples Group.
Westra has been the Principal Investigator for SSHRC (1992-1999) and for NATO'S Advanced Scientific Research Workshop (1999) and has organized numerous meetings and sessions in that capacity, in Europe, Australia, the U.S. and Canada. She has won several fellowships including the Harley D. Hallett Fellowship (to pursue a law degree), and is currently funded by SSHRC for her second doctorate in Jurisprudence (2001- 2004). She has been a consultant for the World Health Organization, the University of Peace (Costa Rica) and the Ontario Government, and she has successfully worked on Environmental Justice together with the lawyers for an African American community in Birmingham, AL. She is legal consultant for a Health Canada Grant (2004-2006 on Governance Instruments and Child Health:Informing Canadian Policy); and Post Doctoral Student on a SSHRC Grant on "Controlling Ecoviolence:Linking Consumption and the Loss of Ecological Integrity to Population, Health, Ecojustice and International Law (2004-2007; University of British Columbia, PI William Rees). She is a Post-Doctoral Scholar with Bradford Morse, University of Ottawa, on Public Health and Indigenous Peoples(SSHRC Grant).
Most of Westra's work is on environmental ethics, policy and law, with special emphasis on human rights and global justice. Westra has published more than 80 articles and chapters in books, and 20 books/monographs:
Westra has taught in both Canada and the U.S. from 1983 to 2000, and her last full time position was Endowed Chair of Environmental Studies at Sarah Lawrence College (NY).