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Legal Studies

Courses that carry a “Legal Studies” tag cover a variety of legal issues and investigate how the legal structure -- including statutes, regulations, legal cases, and constitutions --interacts with the discipline in question.

ECON 275: Law and Economics

Legal rules and institutions influence people's behavior. By setting acceptable levels of pollution, structuring guidelines for contract negotiations, deciding who should pay for the costs of an accident, and determining punishment for crimes, courts and legislatures create incentives. How do economic considerations factor into legal rules, and how do laws affect economic output and distribution? In this class, we use court cases, experiments, and current legal controversies to explore such issues.
Not offered 2017-2018

HIST 212: The Era of the American Revolution

How Revolutionary was the American Revolution? This class will examine the American Revolution as both a process and a phenomenon. It will consider the relationship of the American Revolution to social, cultural, economic, political, and ideological change in the lives of Americans from the founding fathers to the disenfranchised, focusing on the period 1750-1790. Students currently enrolled in History 212 are eligible to take the optional 2-credit digital lab, History 210, “Boston Massacre in 3D.” We will use 3D modeling and GIS to create a Boston Massacre digital game.
Not offered 2017-2018

HIST 213: The Age of Hamilton

This course will examine the social, political, and cultural history of the period 1783-1830 with special consideration of the framing and ratification of the U.S. Constitution and the new nation’s transnational connections, especially to France and Haiti. Other topics include partisan conflict, political culture, nation-building, the American character, and domestic life. We will also consider the contemporary interest in this period in both politics and musical theater. Some previous knowledge of American history assumed.
Offered Fall 2017

HIST 228: Civil Rights and Black Power

This course treats the struggle for racial justice from World War II through the 1960s. Histories, journalism, music, and visual media illustrate black and white elites and grassroots people allied in this momentous epoch that ranges from a southern integrationist vision to northern Black Power militancy. The segregationist response to black freedom completes the study.
Not offered 2017-2018

HIST 395: Crime and Punishment: American Legal History, 1607-1865

Legal documents such as depositions, file papers, complaints, accusations, confessions, and laws themselves offer a fascinating window into American history. Such documents lend themselves to the study of Indian history, capitalism, family relationships, and slavery, to name only a few possible topics. This is an advanced research seminar in which students will write a 25-30 page paper based on original research. Participation in the seminar will also include some common readings that use a variety of approaches to legal history, and extensive peer reviews of research papers.
Not offered 2017-2018

PHIL 221: Philosophy of Law

This course provides students with an opportunity to engage actively in a discussion of theoretical questions about law. We will consider the nature of law as it is presented by natural law theory, legal positivism and legal realism. Then we will deal with responsibility and punishment, and challenges to the idea of the primacy of individual rights from legal paternalism and moralism. We will next inquire into the explanations of why individuals should obey the law, and conditions under which civil disobedience is justified. Finally, we will discuss issues raised by feminist legal theory and some theories of minority rights.
Offered Spring 2018

PHIL 243: Animal Ethics: The Moral Status of Animals

In an era of rapid globalization and increasing dominion of humans over the natural world, we are all (often unwittingly) party to practices that seemingly exact grave harm on billions of nonhuman animals. This raises a pressing ethical question: what are our moral obligations (if any) to nonhuman animals, and how might we practically fulfill such moral obligations (if they exist)? Also, what bearing does the latest scientific research on animal behavior have on these questions? In this course we will explore these and related questions, through a study of various philosophers and ethologists. The course will culminate in a class project that addresses animal ethics related issues in the community.
Not offered 2017-2018

POSC 122: Politics in America: Liberty and Equality

An introduction to American government and politics. Focus on the Congress, Presidency, political parties and interest groups, the courts and the Constitution. Particular attention will be given to the public policy debates that divide liberals and conservatives and how these divisions are rooted in American political culture.
Offered Fall 2017, Winter 2018

POSC 271: Constitutional Law I

Covers American constitutional law and history from the founding to the breakdown of the constitution in secession crisis. Extensive attention will be paid to the constitutional convention and other sources of constitutional law in addition to Supreme Court cases.
Offered Fall 2017

POSC 272: Constitutional Law II

Covers American constitutional law and history from Reconstruction to the contemporary era. Extensive attention will be paid to the effort to refound the American constitution following the Civil War as manifest in the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth amendments, and to the successive transformations which the Supreme Court worked in the new constitutional order. Political Science 271 is not a prerequisite.
Offered Winter 2018

POSC 313: Legal Issues in Higher Education

This seminar will explore pressing legal and policy issues facing American colleges and universities. The course will address the ways core academic values (e.g., academic freedom; the creation and maintenance of a community based on shared values) fit or conflict with legal rules and political dynamics that operate beyond the academy. Likely topics include how college admissions are shaped by legal principles, with particular emphasis on debates over affirmative action; on-campus speech; faculty tenure; intellectual property; student rights and student discipline (including discipline for sexual assault); and college and university relations with the outside world.
Not offered 2017-2018

SOAN 202: Girls Gone Bad: Women, Crime, and Criminal Justice

In the examination of arrest statistics, self-report data, and victimization survey responses, a strong and persistent pattern emerges: males commit more crime than females and the types of crime males commit are generally more serious. This relationship between gender and crime is so strong that criminologists Gottfredson and Hirschi once proclaimed: “Men are always and everywhere more likely than women to commit criminal acts.” In this course we examine the outlier: women who engage in criminal activity. Using a sociological perspective, we’ll answer questions such as: what is crime? What kinds of crime do women commit?  Is the gender gap in crime now closing? Why do women commit crime? How does the criminal justice system react to female criminals? How do women experience imprisonment?
Not offered 2017-2018

WGST 210: Sexuality and Religious Controversies in the United States and Beyond

From pulpits to political campaigns, notions of sexuality are deployed in religious discourse to develop definitions of morality, ethics, family, marriage, gender, citizenship, civil liberties, righteousness and sinfulness. Religious concepts have also been used as creative tools to repress, liberate, legislate, and re-vision various conceptions of sexuality. This course will examine the ways in which religious ideologies, theologies, motivations, and practices function in both public and private contexts in debates over a range of topics, including homosexuality, abortion, and public comportment. We will consider questions about how ideas of sexuality are established as normative through scriptural, ritual, and rhetorical devices.
Not offered 2017-2018