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 programs
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
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
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
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 nations
capital, may do so through the Colleges 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
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 majors upper
level coursework and the Senior thesis.