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Catalog 2003-2004
Law and Society (BA)
School of Social Science and Human Services

Requirements of the Major
Convener: Mark Howenstein
Advisors: John Robert Cassidy
Robert Christopher
Linda Mercurio
Alisa Smith

About the Major

The Law and Society major invites students to deepen their understanding of law in its historical and social contexts. Through the study of law from ancient societies to our contemporary day, students are urged to regard law not simply as a body of rules but as a dynamic institution shaped by historical forces and social imperatives. While the program’s courses emphasize the origins, values and practices of the Anglo-American legal tradition, equal emphasis is given to such contemporary issues as crime and social policy and the protection of civil liberties amidst a public imperative for a safe society. Law and Society students can choose to tailor their interests to match the two tracks offered by the major.

A Law and Justice track is sponsored by the School of American and International Studies. This component of the major emphasizes the history, theory and practice of law, its comparative and international dimensions, the influence of the supreme court on the development of American civil liberties, and the practice of ethics and civic duty in an increasingly complex social and legal environment. Though not specifically a pre-law major, a notable number of students with law school aspirations select this track.

A second track, Crime and Social Justice, is sponsored by the School of Social Science and Human Services. This track invites students to take courses in the fields of criminology, criminal justice, psychology and sociology where particular attention is given to the causes of crime, the treatment of criminals, the criminal court process and the issues attendant on juvenile and family law. Like the Law and Justice track, it does not specifically focus on a vocational goal, though students entering the Crime and Social Justice track often seek a career in the broadening field of law enforcement and public safety.

Though each track has a particular orientation, students interact with each other through participation in jointly required courses. Students in each track are also selectively required to take courses sponsored by the track with which they are not formally affiliated. Finally, the senior requirements for both majors are the same in that all are required to complete the 36 credit major by fulfilling an 110 hour experiential Field Study assignment in a law-related setting and writing a senior essay on a project chosen in concert with a faculty mentor.

Law and Society Field Study, Directed Readings, and Senior Thesis

In these advanced courses, students are offered special opportunities for independent study and field experience. Working with a Law and Society faculty advisor, students are encouraged to define their Senior program so as to deepen their own intellectual and career aspirations.

Field Study: This course allows students to combine study and practice in a law-related field placement such as in legislative and executive offices, criminal justice settings, and a broad range of legal advocacy groups. Students who wish to conduct their field study in the nation’s capital, may do so through the College’s affiliation with the institute for Experiential Learning. Those students wishing to do field study in Washington, D.C., or other distant sites, should confer in their Sophomore year with the Convener of the Major.

Directed Readings: This course allows students to advance their understanding of the work accomplished through previous coursework and field study. Students select a comprehensive topic area and pursue a course of reading, discussion, and the completion of a variety of assignments with their faculty advisor.

Senior Thesis: The final course in the major, it encourages students to synthesize their coursework, readings, and field study through the preparation of a Senior paper on a substantive topic of Law and Society inquiry.

Careers in Law and Society

Since the Law and Society major is a broad-based interdisciplinary major in the humanities and social sciences, it provides a solid foundation for many professional and nonprofessional career options, including public service, law enforcements, health care, social services, and legal administration. The major is not designed specifically as a pre-law major, though a number of Law and Society graduates enter law school each year.

The major is offered by the School of American and International Studies and the School of Social Science and Human Services and leads to a B.A. degree.

A minor is not available.

Students who have declared, or wish to declare a major in Law and Society and who have attained 45 credits, must see the Law and Society Convener for a conference. Criteria for continuation in the program include the following (1) review of grades in lower level Law and Society courses, (2) cumulative G.P.A. at 45 credits, (3) recommendations from Law and Society faculty, (4) readiness for the major’s upper level coursework and the Senior thesis.
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