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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 2016-2017

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.
Offered Winter 2017

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.
Not offered 2016-2017

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.
Offered Fall 2016

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 2016-2017

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.
Not offered 2016-2017

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.
Offered Spring 2017

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 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017

POSC 206: The American Courts

We will explore the political and institutional dimensions of courts, and consider whether and how judicial decision making differs from political decision making. Topics will include legal reasoning and the role of the judge, the institutional capacity of courts and their relation to the political branches, and the role of lawyers in the political system.
Not offered 2016-2017

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 2016

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.
Not offered 2016-2017

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 2016-2017

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

Criminologists agree that sex is a major correlate of criminal activity. Whether we examine official statistics, self-report data, or victimization surveys, the pattern is strong and persistent: males commit more crime than females and the types of offenses males commit tend to be more serious. While crime is predominantly a male phenomenon, in this course we examine female criminality. In doing so, we learn about the social basis of criminal activity, the assumptions present in criminological theory, and the ways in which criminal justice practices are gendered.
Not offered 2016-2017

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 2016-2017