Chair, Professor LAWRENCE KAPLAN

CKALL, JUST, KAPLAN, KASSIN**, NOLAN**, SHANKS. Assistant Professor: SINIAWER**. Visiting Assistant Professor: A. HIRSCH§§.

Legal Studies is an interdisciplinary program designed to give students a background and frameworks for understanding the law as a means of regulating human behavior and resolving disputes among individuals, groups, and governments. Emanating from a liberal arts tradition, and not specifically aimed at preparing students for law school, this program provides the tools needed to think and argue critically about how laws work, how they evolved in the course of history and in different parts of the world, how they are enforced, and how they affect our everyday lives.

The courses in this program address a wide range of subjects, including the philosophical, moral, historical, social, and political underpinnings of law; the U.S. Constitution; law enforcement and other aspects of criminal justice; methods of scientific proof; psychological influences on evidence, trials, and decision-making; cultural perspectives and non-western legal traditions; and the use of law to regulate environmental policy. Courses are taught by faculty in the Sciences, Social Sciences, and Humanities, whose work centers on legal processes, and by visiting professors from various law schools.


The concentration in legal studies consists of six courses, including an interdisciplinary introductory course, four electives taken from at least two departments, and a senior seminar on a contemporary topic in the law. Electives may vary from year to year according to course offerings. In addition, the program offers local, alumni, and professional contacts for summer and WSP internships in a wide range of government and private law-related settings.


Students who choose to study abroad should consult with the Program Chair to insure that they can complete the requirements. Studying abroad may provide exciting opportunities to learn about legal traditions and systems other than those of the United States. Students should check with the Chair to be sure that courses taken abroad will be counted toward completion of the Program.


LGST 101(S) Processes of Adjudication
How are disputes resolved within social systems? Focusing on this question, this team- taught interdisciplinary course presents different perspectives on trials and other methods of adjudicating crimes, settling matters of public policy, and resolving civil disputes among individuals, groups, governments, and organizations. Topics to be addressed include: the historical and Constitutional basis for the operation of the American court system and for juries and jury trials; methods of gathering and evaluating evidence; the role of forensic science and technology; alternative means of adjudication as seen in the function of administrative agencies; adjudication of disputes across international boundaries; adversarial, inquisitorial, and consensus-building approaches to dispute resolution used in past and non-western cultures.
Format: lecture/discussion. Evaluation will be based on two exams, a 10- to 15-page paper, and class participation.
Enrollment limit
: 40.
This is an interdisciplinary course to be team-taught by faculty, from a variety of departments.


LGST 401(S) Senior Seminar: The Legal Palette
The great jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes claimed that people trained in law rarely appreciate art: works of genius would elude lawyers and judges because "their very novelty would make them repulsive." As Holmes implies, in crucial respects law and art are opposites. Most significantly, the legal system aims at stability and reinforcement of social norms whereas at least some art seeks to destabilize and challenge prevailing norms. What happens when these worlds collide? This course explores several legal battles involving art that raise profound questions. Are judges and juries equipped to determine the purpose or value of art? Do artists need the protection of society or does society need protection from artists? The most crucial question, from the standpoint of this course, concerns the capacity of our legal system to strike an appropriate balance between preserving the social fabric and accommodating change. Does the inherent conservatism of the law inevitably impede the kind of free expression necessary for a thriving democracy?
Format: seminar. Requirements: active class participation, several short papers, and a substantially longer final paper.
Prerequisites: Legal Studies 101 and at least two Legal Studies electives, or permission of the instructor. Enrollment limit: 25 (expected: 20-25). Preference will be given, in order of seniority, to students for whom this course completes the Legal Studies concentration.


Four elective courses are required to complete a concentration in Legal Studies. These courses must be taken from at least two departments.

  1. Anthropology 342 Dispute and Conflict, Settlement and Resolution: The Anthropology of Law
  2. Chemistry 113 Chemistry and Crime: From Sherlock Holmes to Modern Forensic Science
  3. Environmental Studies 307/Political Science 317 Environmental Law
  4. History 395 Comparative History of Organized Crime
  5. Legal Studies 397, 398 Independent Study
  6. Philosophy 272T Free Will and Responsibility
  7. Political Science 216 (formerly 219) Constitutional Law I: Structures of Power
  8. Political Science 217 (formerly 216) Constitutional Law II: Rights
  9. Political Science 223 International Law
  10. Political Science 309 Comparative Constitutionalism
  11. Political Science 318 The Voting Rights Act and Voting Movement
  12. Political Science 319 War and Constitution
  13. Political Science 338 American Legal Philosophy
  14. Psychology 347 Psychology and the Law
  15. Sociology 215 Crime in the Streets
  16. Sociology 218 Law and Modern Society
  17. Sociology 265 Drugs and Society