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 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 mid-level course will examine the development of 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 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. Prerequisite: permission of instructor. This course is also listed as SOCY 243.
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 also listed as RLST 380. Prerequisite: permission of instructor.
This course is designed as a middle-level seminar and directed research course that will focus 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. This course will examine contemporary theories of women's criminality, 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 the problem of crime in and upon the lives of women, a primary inquiry in the course will be "Does, and in what ways can, one's sex or gender affect one's access to and response from the American criminal justice system?"
The format of the class meetings will be primarily one of discussion. The success of the course depends significantly upon the effective mixture of class discussion and participation; conventional "lectures," if they occur at all, will be a very minor part of the class. Thus, student participation is not only strongly encouraged, but is essential toward maximizing the full potential of the course and the students in it.
The final letter grade will be determined by the students' performance with respect to class participation and successful completion of a semester-long research project. All phases of the research will be incorporated into the required course blog that each student will maintain. Each student will identify a woman (criminal, victim, or law enforcer) through whose story the research will be built. The facts and issues raised in that narrative will form the basis of the outline for the research. At the end of the semester, each student will have written and produced a feature radio program or podcast containing the prescribed elements of the research. The expectation is that students enrolled will have taken an introductory course in a social science course and/or an introductory course in legal studies. Prerequisite: sophomore standing.
Currently, there is in American society much discussion surrounding issues of mental illness and how to deal with those identified as having a mental illness. These discussions are usually framed within psychological and medical discourses. This means that sociological paradigms are left out of most conversations about the causes of mental illness, treatment practices, and the means by which our society can improve the psychological well-being of its individual citizens and the population as a whole. The goal of this course, then, is to provide students with sociological insights into several issues surrounding mental illness, those identified as mentally ill, and the treatment of mental illness by the field of psychiatry. To that end, we will trace the history of the perception of, and treatment practices applied to, the psychologically “deviant;” we will investigate the medicalization (by psychiatry) of psychological deviance and the social construction of mental illness; and we will explore the various treatment practices of psychiatry in the post-war years and the subsequent anti-psychiatry movement of the 1960s and 1970s. In addition, we will discuss many of the social determinants of mental illness, the disparity in the rates of mental illness across the population, and we will seek to understand the lived experience of those with mental illness and the social stigma that is attached to mental illness. This course, then, has been developed in order for students to be able to present a sociological contribution to current cultural debates surrounding mental illness and rationales for psychiatric treatment. This course counts toward the "institutions and change" requirement for the major. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course or permission of instructor.
While sociology in medicine uses sociology to clarify medically defined problems such as the nature of patient compliance, a sociology of medicine takes a critical look at how medicine both enables and constrains human behavior. That is, sociologists of medicine want to understand the practices of medical control of individuals, groups, and populations. These practices work to control those within medicine, such as those studying to become medical professionals as students in medical school, and those practicing the healing arts and sciences in clinical settings. Medical control is also deployed onto lay individuals, both the sick and the healthy, through its claims to scientific authority (and resistance to lay opinions), through seeing illness as only treatable by western medicine, and through defining deviance and, conversely, normal human conditions and experiences, as pathological. Therefore, in this mid-level sociology course, we will use concepts such as power, status, role, structure, organization, practice, labor, socialization, and culture to develop a sociological and critical analysis of medicine as an institution of social control. After a brief summary of the history of medicine, we will discuss and examine sociological monographs on medical education, nursing, the medicalization of society, the clash of two cultural perceptions of disease and treatment, and the conflict within medical science and the conflict between medicine and interests groups regarding the nature and treatment of an epidemic. This course counts toward the "institutions and change" requirement for the major. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course or permission of instructor.