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 those students who intend to complete a Law and Society Concentration. Prerequisite: sophomore standing.
This course is a study of major works in political philosophy since about 1950. Topics will include: the nature and legitmacy of modern political institutions; modern forms of power, oppression, and alienation; the often-conflicting demands of liberty, equality, rights, and recognition. We will explore these topics through the writings of Oakeshott, Rawls, Nozick, Taylor, Geuss, Habermas, and Foucault. Offered every third 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 will also 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.
This course provides students with an introductory overview of the nature, causes, and treatment of adolescent and adult mental disorders, including anxiety disorders, mood disorders, schizophrenia, and organic mental disorders. Included there will be discussion of critical issues and controversies in this field, such as the definition of abnormality and the labeling of abnormal behavior. Prerequisite: PSYC 100. This course is typically offered every year.
This mid-level course focuses on the American legal system's effect on racial, ethnic, and minority groups in the United States as well as on the manner in which such groups have influenced the state of the "law" in this country. It is intended to stimulate critical and systematic thinking about the relationships among American legal institutions and selected racial, ethnic, and minority populations. The class will examine various social and cultural conditions, as well as historical and political events, that were influenced in large part by the minority status of the participants. These conditions will be studied to determine in what ways, if any, the American legal system has advanced, accommodated, or frustrated the interests of these groups. Through exposure to the legislative process and legal policymaking, students should gain an appreciation for the complexity of the issues and the far-reaching impact that legal institutions have on the social, political, and economic condition of racial, ethnic, and minority groups in America. The primary requirement of this course is completion of a comprehensive research project. This course fulfills the "culture and identity" or "institutions and inequalities" requirement for the major. Prerequisite: 100- level sociology course or permission of instructor. This course may be counted toward the Law and Society Concentration, African Diaspora Concentration and the American studies major.
Hip hop music is, if nothing at all, about the life experiences of urban youth. From Melle Mel to Jay-Z, MCs have provided listeners with intimate details of what it means and how it feels to live in Urban America, especially in the portions of it that are poverty stricken. So what has hip hop taught us about urban communities in places like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Atlanta? What has it taught us about racial, class, and gendered dynamics that make up these locales? What has it taught us about macro-level structural forces and micro-level interactions that are responsible for the transformation of these urban spaces? These are some of the questions we will take on in this class. To do so, we listen to a number of "classic" hip hop albums and read a wide range of journalistic and scholarly writings about hip hop. In addition, we consult sociological works in urban sociology, including ethonographic works, to help us make sense of and evaluate what hip hop music says about urban America. Prerequisite: Foundation course in sociology.
The United States is home to 5% of the world's population, yet it makes up 25% of the world's prisoners--by far the most incarcerating nation. Mass incarceration does not impact all communities equally. Low-income individuals, African Americans, and Latinos are disproportionately imprisoned or placed under systems of criminal surveillance, such as hyper-surveillance by police authorities and criminal probation. This course will examine the historical, economic, and social conditions that have produced the current state of mass incarceration. While the majority of the literature we will read is in sociology, we will also read works in anthropology, history, geography, and ethnic studies that will enhance our sociological understanding of the phenomenon of mass incarceration. First, we will engage classical social theories of power and punishment through the works of theorists such as Michel Foucault and Erving Goffman, to familiarize ourselves with dominant sociological perspectives on the social construction of deviance and criminalization. We will read prominent theories of racialization and mass incarceration, such as Loïc Wacquant's "hyperincarceration" and Angela Davis's concept of the "prison industrial complex," to explore how prisons as a social institution operate as important sites for the social reproduction of class, racial, and gender inequality. Following this, we engage empirical studies on the impact of criminal incarceration on the families, significant others, and communities of those most subject to incarceration. The course will end with readings on the prison abolition movement and discussions around prison reform and change. Prerequisite: 100- level sociology course or permission of instructor.