SOC 309: INTRODUCTION TO LAW AND SOCIETY
This course is an
introduction to the field of law and society. We will examine the
development of law, legal thinking and policy addressing many critical
legal issues. Among the topics to be discussed are the origin and context
of American law, the development of legal theory, comparative legal
systems (Islamic and Socialist), the U.S. and international law, and
controversial legal issues in such as areas as medicine and gender.
Emphasis is placed on issues that illustrate the interaction between law
and social control and law and social change. The course will draw from a
variety of perspectives including sociology, political science, history
and philosophy. A major goal of the course will be to give students a
practical foundation in the critical assessment of law and legal thinking
as they interact with some of the major social issues of our time. To
this end, we will closely examine several major constitutional questions
addressed in recent opinions of the U.S. Supreme Court. This course
provides a background for more advanced studies in law, criminal justice,
politics and society.
Law, Politics and Society, Houghton Mifflin 2006.
Katsh and Rose.
Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Legal Issues, 12th ed.
McGraw Hill 2006.
Class time will be used in a variety of ways, including lecture,
discussion, films and group activities. Lecture and discussions will
presume and build upon the readings, so you should read and be prepared to
discuss assigned reading. STAY CURRENT IN YOUR READING EACH WEEK.
Regular attendance and good note taking will be necessary. Contribution
to class discussions on a regular basis may influence grading.
Selections from the LEGAL ISSUES book will be accompanied by worksheets to
help you digest the material; they also serve as useful sources for test
review. It is likely that you will encounter many new terms, ideas and
references. As you read and do the worksheets, keep a running list of
those terms, ideas and events that you want clarified. Bring them up for
discussion in class. Time will often be allowed specifically for
answering these kinds of questions. The worksheets will also be a focus
for in-class group discussions and analysis.
work. Involvement in in-class
study and discussion groups will be a major part of your participation
grade. Analysis of Supreme Court cases will be a major focus of these.
Presentation Project. Groups
of 4 to 6 students will be organized to present a debate on a legal
issue. The issue will be chosen by the group and cleared by me. They can
be topics from the LEGAL ISSUES book or others the group finds
interesting. The debates will be held on the last week of class. Specific
guidelines on how to organize a debate will be given. Each participant
will hand in a typed outline indicating their specific role in preparation
for the debate.
project, and grading: There
will be three exams. Exams will cover both lecture and reading material.
Your grade will be weighted as follows:
TENTATIVE READING, LECTURE AND TEST SCHEDULE
(may be modified as course progresses)
Ch. 1: Introduction to American Law: Defining
Issue 11: Does the “Cruel and Unusual
Punishment” Clause of the Eighth Amendment Bar the Imposition of the Death
Penalty on Juveniles?
Ch. 2: American Law and Legal Theory
Ch 3: The Foundations of American Law
Issue 8: Do Religious Groups Have a Right to
Use Public School Facilities After Hours?
Ch. 4: Comparative Context for American Law
Ch. 5: The United States and International Law
Ch. 9: Chief Executive, Regulatory Agencies,
Administrative Agencies and Lawmaking
Issue 1: Should Persons Who Are Declared to Be
“Enemy Combatants” Be Able to Contest Their Detention Before a Judge?
Ch 8: Legislatures and Lawmaking
Ch 12: Law and Gender
Issue 2: Is Abortion Protected by the
Issue 16: May Marriage Be Denied to Same-Sex
Ch. 14: Law and Medicine
Issue 3: Are Restrictions on
Physician-Assisted Suicide Constitutional?