This course examines the law, legal profession, and legal institutions from a variety of traditional social-science perspectives. The primary frame of reference will be sociological and social psychological. The objective of the course is to expose students to a variety of interdisciplinary perspectives on law and to encourage the examination of law-related phenomena through the literature of multiple disciplines. Topics to be covered include law as a social institution; law as a social-control mechanism; a history of law in the United States; the U.S. criminal justice system; philosophies of law; law and psychology; comparative legal cultures; and law and social change. This survey course is intended to encourage and facilitate a critical study of law in society and serve as a foundation from which to pursue the study of law and legal issues in other curricular offerings. This course is required for the Law and Society Concentration. Prerequisite: sophomore standing.
This course examines moral issues we encounter in our private as well as public lives from a philosophical point of view. We discuss various ethical approaches such as Kantianism, utilitarianism, and value pluralism through analyzing issues such as abortion, capital punishment, euthanasia, the moral status of nonhuman animals, the environment, climate change, war, world poverty, inequality, and the ecology of rural life. There is a strong emphasis on discussion, and we use diverse methods such as Brandeis Brief and moral heuristics. This course is suitable for first-year students. Offered every year.
Does the U.S. Congress possess the capacity for independent and effective law-making, budgeting and oversight of the executive? To what extent has Congress ceded policymaking responsibility to the president? How does congressional performance vary across policy areas and what accounts for these variations? How have recent reforms affected congressional performance? This course explores these questions by examining the historical development and contemporary performance of the U.S. Congress. We will analyze the factors that influence the policymaking process, including the electoral setting in which legislators operate, the relationship of Congress to interest groups and the party and committee systems within the institution. We also will analyze the performance of Congress in several policy areas. This course can be used to complete the requirement in American politics for political science majors. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Offered every two years.
The course explores basic issues in constitutional law relevant to the principles and problems of our liberal democracy. We begin with cases of the Marshall Court, which lay the foundations of our constitutional order and define the role of the judiciary. But most of the course is devoted to controversial themes in our 20th-century jurisprudence. Emphasis will be placed on recent Supreme Court decisions in the areas of equal protection of the laws, due process, the right to privacy, freedom of speech and press, religious freedom and the separation of powers. This course can be used to complete the requirement in American politics for political science majors. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Offered every two years.
This course provides students with an overview of the classification, causes, pathways, and treatment of adult mental disorders, including anxiety, mood disorders, and personality disorders. Included will be discussion of critical issues and controversies in this field, such as the definition of abnormality, as well as an extended emphasis on cross-cultural issues in psychopathology. Prerequisite: PSYC 100 or 110 or AP score of 5. Typically offered every year.
This mid-level course will examine the various theories of ethics and social justice from the ancient Hebrew tradition of Torah and the prophets, New Testament writers Luke and Matthew, and medieval natural law, to modern discussions about social, political and economic justice. We will explore how critical social theory has been applied within the political and economic context of modern industrial societies and how biblical and later religious teachings have been used as the basis for social ethics. Questions of justice, freedom, development, individualism and alienation will be major themes in this study of capitalism, Christianity and Marxism. Special emphasis will be on contemporary debates about the ethics of democratic capitalism from within both conservative theology and philosophy and radical liberation theology. Readings will be from the Bible, papal encyclicals, the American Catholic bishops' letter on economics and social justice, Friedman, Wallis, Farmer, Novak, Baum, Miranda, Fromm, Pirsig, Schumacher and N. Wolf. This course counts toward the "culture and identity" or "institutions and change" requirement for the major. This course is the same as RLST 380. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course or 100-level religious studies course or permission of instructor.
This course, a mid-level seminar and directed research course, focuses upon the role and status of women within the U.S. criminal justice system. Students will examine the evolution of roles, responsibilities, and treatment of women who occupy various statuses within the system, including that of criminals, victims/survivors of crime, and criminal justice professionals. We will examine contemporary theories of women and crime, especially a growing body of literature in the field of feminist criminology. Using a wide range of texts, monographs, and articles to stimulate critical thinking and discussion about crime and gender, a primary overarching inquiry will be: Does one’s sex or gender affect one’s treatment within, access to, and response from the American criminal justice system? Through exposure to the legislative process, legal policymaking, and the tools of socio-legal research, students will gain an appreciation for the complexity and far-reaching impact that sex and gender have upon the social, political and economic conditions of women who come into contact with the criminal justice system. This course counts towards the law and society concentration. Permission of instructor required. No prerequisite.
This mid-level course will explore the methods that sociologists use to study popular culture and media products, and will examine the connections of popular culture and media to broader social patterns within American society. Course material will cover a range of subjects, including movies, television, the news, novels, and advertising. Students will become familiar with several approaches to the study of popular culture and mass media, and examine what these cultural products can reveal about social norms, trends, and relationships. In addition to empirical assessments of the content of cultural products, the course will examine the institutional structures that shape their production and distribution, as well as patterns of audience consumption and interpretation. This work will culminate with the opportunity to design a research project that uses sociological methods to critically interpret and analyze popular culture products. Prerequisite: foundation course in sociology or permission of instructor.
Social life is saturated by sexuality in unstable and disjointed ways. From advertisements that promote the use of sexual enhancement pharmaceuticals to laws restricting access to safe and healthy sexual encounters, the sociocultural framing of sexuality is unequal and often illogical. This course examines sexualities as they are constructed, experienced, and regulated across multiple social contexts and institutions. We will explore the history of sexuality and the evolution of its framing in contemporary society; lived experiences of those labeled or identifying as sexual minorities; privileges associated with hegemonic sexual identity categories; the ongoing sociopolitical regulation of sexual identities, communities, and desires; and the history of social activism centered on sexual minorities. This course counts toward the "culture and identity" requirement for the major. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course.
This upper-level seminar critically examines several genres of literature on the social roles of men and women at both the social-psychological and structural levels of society. We will discuss, in particular, how gender relates to concepts such as socialization, attitudes, interpersonal behavior, work roles and stratification by race, sexuality and class; and social problems that arise as a result of gender inequality. This course counts toward the "culture and identity" or "institutions and change" requirement for the major. This course satisfies a requirement of the African diaspora studies and law and society concentrations and the women and gender studies major. Prerequisite: junior standing or permission of instructor. Offered every two to three years.