Goodwin received Richard B.A. and Ph.D. at Harvard.
Goodwin taught at Harvard from 1942 until 1950. He fled the United States during the McCarthy era, then taught at the University of Cambridge until 1979 and the University of Siena until 1984. He was the first non-Italian professor of economics at Siena.
Goodwin joined the Communist Party of Great Britain while a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford in the 1930s, and then its American counterpart when he got back to the States.
Married Jacqueline Wynmalen, June 24, 1937.