An interdepartmental program in Legal Studies

Last updated: July 31, 2014 at 3:51 p.m.

Objectives

The role of legal studies in a liberal arts curriculum was admirably stated by our University's namesake, Louis Dembitz Brandeis, who wrote, near the end of his career,

The study of law should be introduced as part of a liberal education, to train and enrich the mind...I am convinced of that, like history, economics, and metaphysics – and perhaps even to a greater degree than these – the law could be advantageously studied with a view to the general development of the mind.

The Legal Studies Program takes up this pedagogical challenge from Justice Brandeis. For nearly four decades, our mission has been to advance the understanding of law throughout the liberal arts community:

  • by developing critical and creative skills to "enrich the mind,"
  • by exploring knowledge of legal issues that arise in diverse fields of study, and
  • by offering concrete ways for liberal education to engage social justice issues.

As an interdepartmental program, Legal Studies considers problems and perspectives that reach across most academic disciplines and practical fields taught at Brandeis. We present law in a broad context of history, economics, politics, philosophy, literature, and the sciences; and we trace law's impact within the fields of health, business, environment, and creative arts. The scope of legal concerns ranges from the local (states and communities), to the national, and to the global (regions and international bodies). Our program does not provide professional legal training. Rather we give undergraduates access to a venerable field of human expression, where rigorous learning combines with reflective practice. Our learning goals apply not just to students completing the LGLS minor, but to the larger number of students who take one or more courses (all open without prerequisite). Understanding how law works should also help guide students in choosing professional careers, and also in forming lives of responsible citizenship.

In Legal Studies, the main University learning goals are tightly interwoven. To invoke Justice Brandeis' core insight, learning about the law improves analytical skills. In dynamic terms, the creative elements in legal knowledge challenge conventions and require public improvement; just as legal problem-solving points back to the refinement of social and humanistic principles. The close integration of legal knowledge and skills provides a concrete framework for social advocacy, bringing real-life justice concerns to the center of liberal inquiry.

Learning Goals

Brandeis University's learning goals ask students to "follow the example of Justice Brandeis." Legal Studies courses provide some focus for this goal, including a course devoted to Louis Brandeis' legal career and social philosophy, interpreted in the context of his times. Students in such courses develop a critical sense of what it means to "follow his example" as a formula for the pursuit of social justice. The Legal Studies Program draws its own inspiration from Justice Brandeis' pedagogical example, starting from his belief that the study of law can enrich the pursuit of a liberal arts education.

Core skills

  • Through the elaboration of legal arguments, students develop increasing clarity in written and oral communication, subject to the demands of social persuasion and institutional scrutiny.
  • Through practice in applied argumentation, students learn how to mobilize (and to critique) the use of quantitative information in the common search for factual truth and effective public policy.
  • Through analyzing and building legal arguments in a variety of social and cultural contexts, students gain facility in systematic critique and self-reflection about norms.

Knowledge

  • Through exploring the history, diversity, and dynamics of legal systems, students supplement their disciplinary studies with attention to public actions and norms.
  • Through close analysis of legal case studies, students learn to integrate knowledge of social problems with strategic alternatives for action.
  • Through examining tensions within legal principles and institutions, students use knowledge to explore the effectiveness of action strategies in pursuit of justice.

Social Justice

  • Through rigorous application of skills and knowledge to legal problems, students develop an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of public advocacy and persuasion.
  • Students learn to put their commitments to social justice to the test of adversarial debate and judicial determination.
  • In every aspect of their study of law, students learn to articulate the aspirations for human improvement that emerge from creative legal thinking.

How to Become a Minor

The legal studies program is open to all Brandeis undergraduates. To enroll in the program, students fill out declaration forms in the legal studies program office (Brown 325) and bring the completed forms to the Office of the University Registrar. Students who complete the requirements for the minor receive certificates from the program and a notation on their official transcripts.

Students do not need to declare a legal studies minor, however, to take legal studies courses.

Faculty

Richard Gaskins, Director
Comparative law and social welfare. Global justice and human rights. Economic philosophies. Legal argumentation.

Melissa Stimell, Internship Director
Social welfare law. Conflict resolution.

Affiliated Faculty (contributing to the curriculum, advising and administration of the department or program)
Richard Gaskins (American Studies)
Gila Hayim (Sociology)
Anita Hill (Heller)
Chandler Rosenberger (International and Global Studies)
Melissa Stimell (Legal Studies Program)
Andreas Teuber (Philosophy)
Michael Willrich (History)
Peter Woll (Politics)

Requirements for the Minor

A. Core course: LGLS 10a (Introduction to Law), preferably no later than the student's junior year.

B. Four additional LGLS courses, at least one of which must be LGLS 100 or higher, or AMST 60a, AMST 188b, AMST 189a, PHIL 74b, or an IGS/LGLS course. For this requirement, students may also take up to three LGLS electives from other departments or programs (see list below), but not more than two from the same department or program.

C. An internship (LGLS 89a) arranged through the LGLS office. For this requirement, students may substitute one of the following:

1. A senior thesis in the student's major, supervised by the major department, which includes some aspect of law (requires prior approval of LGLS Program Director).
2. Either LGLS 161b or IGS/LGLS 185b. If used as a substitute for the internship, the course may not also be counted toward B. above. LGLS 161b may not be substituted for the LGLS internship if it is counted as an internship for another department or program.
3. An assigned internship in The Hague Semester Program (IGS/LGLS 92b or approved substitute).

D. No course for which a student receives a grade below a C-, nor any course taken pass/fail, may be counted toward the minor.

Courses of Instruction

(1-99) Primarily for Undergraduate Students

IGS/LGLS 92b Internship & Analysis Brandeis in The Hague
Course to be taught at Brandeis program in The Hague.
Usually offered every year.
Mr. Gaskins

IGS/LGLS 98b Independent Study Brandeis in The Hague
Course to be taught at Brandeis program in The Hague.
Usually offered every year.
Mr. Gaskins

LGLS 10a Introduction to Law
[ oc ss ]
Surveys the nature, process, and institutions of law: the reasoning of lawyers and judges, the interplay of cases and policies, the impact of history and culture, and the ideals of justice and responsibility in a global context. Usually offered every fall.
Mr. Gaskins

LGLS 89a Law and Society Internship and Seminar
[ oc ]
Prerequisites: LGLS 10a and one other LGLS course or permission of the instructor. To obtain an internship, students must discuss their placements with the LGLS internship director by April 15 for fall term internships or by November 15 for spring term internships. This course may not be repeated for credit.
A biweekly class, a supervised law-related internship in a public agency or nonprofit organization, and a related research paper. Internships are twice per week for not more than 15 hours per week. Examples of internship activities include investigating discrimination cases, negotiating between consumers and small business, and attending criminal and family courts. Internships must be arranged through the program administrator. Usually offered every semester.
Ms. Stimell

LGLS 98a Independent Research
Usually offered every year.
Staff

LGLS 98b Independent Research
Usually offered every year.
Staff

LGLS 98bj Independent Research
Through experiential fieldwork, students will engage with policy makers, providers, insurers, advocacy groups and regulators, as well as health care consumers and patients confronting complex health care choices. These hands-on experiences will enable students to ask critical questions about “what comes next for American health care?” The choices that we make - as individuals, groups, and policy makers - influence the kind of society we have today and in the future. By interacting directly with stakeholders, students--as future leaders and global citizens-- will gain the experience, confidence, and connections to promote positive changes in both policy and practice. Offered as part of the JBS program.
Ms. Curi and Ms. Noble

(100-199) For Both Undergraduate and Graduate Students

All LGLS courses may be limited in enrollment, with preference given to legal studies minors.

IGS/LGLS 128b Networks of Global Justice
[ ss ]
Course to be taught at Brandeis program in The Hague.
Examines how global justice is actively shaped by dynamic institutions, contested ideas, and evolving cultures. Using liberal arts methods, the course explores prospects for advancing peace and justice in a complex world. For a laboratory it accesses courts, tribunals, rights initiatives, and research projects found in The Hague—a global hub for some of the world’s most intractable conflicts. Usually offered every year.
Mr. Gaskins

IGS/LGLS 180a The Spirit of International Law
[ ss ]
Course to be taught at Brandeis program in The Hague.
This course provides a broad survey of international law--how it aspires to peace, justice, and human rights; and how it meets the hard realities of a complex world. Building on direct contact with international tribunals, the course considers social, cultural, political, and economic factors shaping global justice, along with the impact of legal values on nations, regions, and communities. Usually offered every year.
Mr. Gaskins

IGS/LGLS 185b Advocacy in the International Criminal Court
[ ss ]
Course to be taught at Brandeis program in The Hague.
After setting the historical and critical framework for international criminal law, this course features intensive workshops with advocates and officials of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, in cooperation with Leiden University. Sessions will include moot court exercises and discussions with judges from the major international tribunals. Usually offered every year.
Mr. Gaskins

LGLS 114a American Health Care: Law and Policy
[ ss ]
Not recommended for freshmen.
Focuses on individual rights, highlights how our laws and policies affect American health care. Traces the evolution of the doctor-patient relationship; explores access issues, including whether health care is or should be a fundamental right; assesses the quality of care and the impact of malpractice; and examines the cost of having (or not having) adequate health insurance. Concludes with options and prospects for meaningful reform. Usually offered every year.
Ms. Curi

LGLS 114aj American Health Care: Law and Policy
[ ss ]
Emphasizes the interplay of law, public policy, and social justice, focusing on health care reform. After considering the background leading up to passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the policy innovations it promotes, particularly with regard to cost, quality, and access, students will consider the current challenges to implementing this ambitious law. By examining the complex structure of the American health care system, in contrast to systems in other advanced countries, we will explore to what extent the ACA promotes the just distribution of quality health care. Offered as part of the JBS program.
Ms. Noble

LGLS 116b Civil Liberties: Constitutional Debates
[ ss ]
Formerly offered as LGLS/POL 116b.
The history and politics of civil liberties and civil rights in the United States, with emphasis on the period from World War I to the present. Emphasis on freedom of speech, religion, abortion, privacy, racial discrimination, and affirmative action. Readings from Supreme Court cases and influential works by historians and political philosophers. Usually offered every year.
Mr. Breen

LGLS 120a Sex Discrimination and the Law
[ ss ]
Traces the evolution of women's rights in the family, in employment, and in the reproductive process, as well as constitutional doctrines. Examines gender inequalities and assesses if and how the law should address them. Legal cases studied emphasize how law reflects society. Usually offered every third year.
Staff

LGLS 123b Immigration and Human Rights
[ ss ]
Examines American immigration policy in the context of international human rights treaties and global practices. Practical exercises highlight social and cultural controversies surrounding refugee status and asylum seeking. Explores tensions between domestic politics and international law in guiding immigration reform. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. Smith

LGLS 124b International Law and Development
[ nw ss ]
Surveys public and private forms of international law with special application to developing countries, and to political and social development in the global economy. Examines basic legal concepts of property, contract, and rule of law in the context of national and cultural transformations. Usually offered every second year.
Staff

LGLS 125b International Law and Organizations
[ ss ]
Introduction to international law, its nature, sources, and application, for example, its role in the management of international conflicts. Topics may include international agreements, international organizations including the United Nations and the International Court of Justice, states and recognition, nationality and alien rights, territorial and maritime jurisdiction, international claims, and the laws of war and human rights. Usually offered every second year.
Staff

LGLS 127b International Economic Law
[ ss ]
Prerequisite: ECON 2a or ECON 10a or permission of the instructor.
Studies the transnational legal institution and practices that constitute the global economic networks of the 21st century. Surveys the fields of corporate regulation, including business practices and human rights, and legal regimes supporting trade and finance. Practice in arbitrating investment disputes between states and corporations. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. Mirfendereski

LGLS 130a Conflict Analysis and Intervention
[ oc ss ]
Examines alternatives to litigation, including negotiation and mediation. Through simulations and court observations, students assess their own attitudes about and skills in conflict resolution. Analyzes underlying theories in criminal justice system, divorce, adoption, and international arena. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Stimell

LGLS 131b Patient Autonomy: Law, Medicine, and Ethics
[ ss ]
Focuses on patient rights, examines how health care decisions are made, and by whom. Explores a range of current issues in the field of biomedical ethics, including the legal and ethical aspects of the physician-patient relationship, the doctrine of informed consent, medical futility, assisted reproduction, physician-assisted suicide, personhood, the right-to-die, clinical research, and emerging technologies. Analyzes hard and often tragic choices involving life, quality of life, and death. Assesses the ability of the legal system to set standards and resolve conflict. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Curi

LGLS 131bj Patient Autonomy: Law, Medicine, and Ethics
[ ss ]
Focuses on patient rights, examining how difficult health care decisions are made, and by whom. Together, by examining the law and a range of ethical theories, we will explore current issues in biomedical ethics, including informed consent, reproductive rights, physician-assisted suicide and the right-to-die, personhood, end-of-life care, and genetics and other emerging technologies; consider the conflicting roles and responsibilities for medical professionals, caregivers, and family members; analyze hard and often tragic choices involving life, quality of life, and death; and assess the ability of the legal system to set meaningful standards and resolve conflict. Offered as part of the JBS program.
Ms. Curi

LGLS 138b Science on Trial
[ qr ss ]
Surveys the procedures and analytic methods by which scientific data enter into litigation and regulation/policy making. Introduces basic tools of risk analysis and legal rules of evidence. Case studies of tobacco litigation and regulation; use of DNA and other forensic evidence in the criminal justice system; the Woburn ground-water contamination case; and other topics to be selected, such as genetics in the courtroom, court-ordered Cesarean sections, polygraph testing, alternative medicine, and genetically modified foods. Usually offered every second year.
Staff

LGLS 140b Investigating Justice
[ ss ]
Examines methods used by journalists and other investigators in addressing injustices within criminal and civil legal systems. Problems include wrongful convictions, civil rights, privacy protection, and ethical conflicts. Research methods and reporting techniques enhance skills in interviewing, writing, and oral presentation. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Kabrhel

LGLS 142b Law and Psychology
[ ss ]
Examines a psychological perspective on the behavior of key players in the legal system, focusing on the trial process--both criminal and civil (personal injury). Explores the tension between human behavior and legal ideals of objectivity, based on current research, emphasizing biases leading to miscarriages of justice. Includes video analysis of jury behavior and courtroom advocacy. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Kabrhel

LGLS 149b Genetics, Law and Society
[ ss ]
Explores the social policy implications of new genetic technologies, including legal, ethical, and political challenges. Topics include privacy and discrimination, changing definitions in family law, information technology and intellectual property, forensic implications of DNA testing, regulation of reproductive technology. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Noble

LGLS 161b Advocacy for Policy Change
[ oc ss ]
This hands-on course invites students to address concrete social problems through public policy reform. It provides background in theories, advocacy skills, networks, and key players that drive the legislative process. Focusing on policy change at the statehouse level, students engage with elected officials and community organizations to advance key legislation affecting social welfare, health, education, and economic justice. Usually offered every year.
Ms. Stimell

Cross-Listed in Legal Studies

AMST 60a The Legal Boundaries of Public and Private Life
[ ss ]
May not be taken for credit by students who took AMST 187a in prior years.
Examine civil liberties through landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases. Explores confrontations between public interest and personal rights across four episodes in American cultural history; post-Civil War race relations; progressive-era economic regulation; war-time free-speech debates; and current issues of sexual and reproductive privacy. Close legal analysis supplemented by politics, philosophy, and social history. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. Gaskins

AMST 188b Louis Brandeis: Law, Business and Politics
[ ss ]
Brandeis's legal career serves as model and guide for exploring the ideals and anxieties of American legal culture throughout the twentieth century. Focuses on how legal values evolve in response to new technologies, corporate capitalism, and threats to personal liberty. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. Gaskins

AMST 189a Legal Foundations of American Capitalism
[ ss ]
Surveys core legal institutions of property, contracts, and corporations. Examines how law promotes and restrains the development of capitalism and market society in America, from the era of mass production through the age of global trade and digital commerce. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. Gaskins

PHIL 74b Foundations of American Pragmatism
[ hum ]
Introduction to American instrumentalism as a philosophical movement and cultural force. Special attention to pragmatic imprints on law and science across the twentieth century. Recurring critical debates over ethical relativism, religious skepticism, legal activism, and the cult of scientific and professional expertise. Usually offered every fourth year.
Mr. Gaskins

Legal Studies Electives

AMST 102aj Environment, Social Justice, and Empowerment
[ oc ss wi ]
Yields six semester-hour credits towards rate of work and graduation.
This community-engaged course involves students first-hand in the legal, policy, science, history and social impacts of current environmental health issues challenging individuals and families and communities today, with a particular focus on low-income, immigrant communities and the profound and unique roles played by women. Students will engage directly in the topics through field trips, visiting speakers and discussions with stakeholders themselves. They also will address the issues by assisting low income residents in Waltham at the Tenant Advocacy Clinic, and collaborating in projects with EPA, DEP and local organizations such as Healthy Waltham, the Waltham Family School, Waltham Family YMCA, Jewish Family and Children's Service, Joseph Smith Community Health Center and others. Offered as part of JBS program.
Ms. Goldin

AMST 170a Conspiracy Theory
[ ss ]
Considers the "paranoid style" in America's political and popular culture and in recent American literature. Topics include allegations of "conspiracy" in connection with the Sacco and Vanzetti, Hiss, and Rosenberg cases; antisemitism and anti-Catholicism; and Watergate and Irangate. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. Cohen

AMST 191b Greening the Ivory Tower: Improving Environmental Sustainability of Brandeis and Community
[ oc ss ]
Yields six semester-hour credits towards rate of work and graduation.
Get active, involved, and out of the classroom with this class! In this hands-on, field-based course we focus on the human impact on the world's natural resources, and explore strategies for creating healthy, resilient , environmentally sustainable communities in the face of increasingly daunting environmental challenges. Students also create projects that can change the face of Brandeis and the local community. Usually offered every year.
Ms. Goldin

ANTH 156a Power and Violence: The Anthropology of Political Systems
[ nw ss ]
Political orders are established and maintained by varying combinations of overt violence and the more subtle workings of ideas. The course examines the relationship of coercion and consensus, and forms of resistance, in historical and contemporary settings. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Ferry

ANTH 163b Production, Consumption, and Exchange
[ nw ss ]
Prerequisite: ANTH 1a, ECON 2a, ECON 10a, or permission of the instructor.
We read in newspapers and books and hear in everyday discussion about "the economy," an identifiably separate sphere of human life with its own rules and principles and its own scholarly discipline (economics). The class starts with the premise that this "commonsense" idea of the economy is only one among a number of possible perspectives on the ways people use resources to meet their basic and not-so-basic human needs. Using extensive cross-cultural case studies, looks at the satisfaction of these needs (which we might call economic activity) as they interact with other aspects of life: gender, kinship, ideas of morality and taste, spirit possession, politics, and so on. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Ferry

ECON 57a Environmental Economics
[ ss ]
Prerequisite: ECON 2a or 10a.
Investigates the theoretical and policy problems posed by the use of renewable and nonrenewable resources. Theoretical topics include the optimal pricing of resources, the optimal use of standards and taxes to correct pollution problems under uncertainty, and the measurement of costs and benefits. Usually offered every year.
Ms. Bui

HIST 160a American Legal History I
[ ss ]
Surveys American legal development from colonial settlement to the Civil War. Major issues include law as an instrument of revolution, capitalism and contract, invention of the police, family law, slavery law, and the Civil War as a constitutional crisis. Usually offered every third year.
Mr. Willrich

HIST 160b American Legal History II
[ ss ]
Survey of American legal development from 1865 to the present. Major topics include constitutionalism and racial inequality, the legal response to industrialization, progressivism and the transformation of liberalism, the rise of the administrative state, and rights-based movements for social justice. Usually offered every year.
Mr. Willrich

HIST 161b American Political History
[ ss ]
Development of American party politics, the legal system, and government. Special attention paid to the social and cultural determinants of party politics, and economic and social policymaking. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. Willrich

HS 120a Race and the Law
[ ss ]
Explores how race has been defined and used to uphold or undermine the principles espoused in the Constitution and other sources of the law in the United States. Issues discussed range from treatment of Native Americans at the nation's birth to the modern concept of affirmative action. One of our premises is that ideally the law represents the synthesis of the narratives of various elements of a society. Usually offered every year.
Ms. Hill

NEJS 25a Introduction to Talmud
[ hum ]
Prerequisite: A 30-level Hebrew course or the equivalent is recommended.
An introduction to Treatise Sanhedrin, on the subject of judicial procedure and capital punishment. Attention is paid to modes of argument, literary form, and development of the Talmudic text. No previous study of Talmud is presupposed. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. Kimelman

NEJS 113b Law in the Bible and the Ancient Near East
[ hum nw ss ]
Open to all students.
A study of laws and legal ideas in biblical and Near Eastern law "codes," treaties, contracts; economic documents and narratives; the development and function of the documents and ideas; the meaning of the laws; and their significance for the various societies. Usually offered every third year.
Mr. Wright

NEJS 126a Intermediate Talmud
[ hum ]
Prerequisite: A 40-level Hebrew course or the equivalent.
Tractate Sanhedrin, chapter three, which deals with the issue of voluntary and compulsory arbitration and the binding nature of gambling agreements. Usually offered every fourth year.
Mr. Kimelman

NEJS 186a Introduction to the Qur'an
[ hum nw ]
Traces the history of the Qur'an as text, its exegesis, and its role in inter-religious polemics, law, theology, and politics. Examines the role of the Qur'an in Islamic teachings and its global impact. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. Lumbard

PHIL 20a Social and Political Philosophy: Democracy and Civil Resistance
[ hum wi ]
Focuses on the relation of the individual to the state and, in particular, on the theory and practice of nonviolent resistance, its aims, methods, achievements, and legitimacy. Examines the nature of obligation and the role of civil disobedience in a democratic society. Explores the conflict between authority and autonomy and the grounds for giving one's allegiance to any state at all. Examples include opposition to the nuclear arms race, and disobedience in China and Northern Ireland and at abortion clinics. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. Teuber

PHIL 22b Philosophy of Law
[ hum wi ]
Examines the nature of criminal responsibility, causation in the law, negligence and liability, omission and the duty to rescue, and the nature and limits of law. Also, is the law more or less like chess or poker, cooking recipes, or the Ten Commandments? Usually offered every year.
Mr. Teuber and Staff

PHIL 111a What Is Justice?
[ hum ]
Prerequisite: One course in philosophy or political theory or permission of the instructor.
What is justice and what does justice require? The course examines theories of justice, both classical and contemporary. Topics include liberty and equality, "who gets what and how much," welfare- and resource-based principles of justice, justice as a virtue, liberalism, multiculturalism, and globalization. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Smiley

PHIL 119a Human Rights
[ hum wi ]
May not be taken for credit by students who took PHIL 19a in prior years.
Examines international human rights policies and the moral and political issues to which they give rise. Includes civilians' wartime rights, the role of human rights in foreign policy, and the responsibility of individuals and states to alleviate world hunger and famine. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. Teuber

POL 115a Constitutional Law
[ ss ]
Analysis of core principles of constitutional law as formulated by the Supreme Court. Primary focus on the First Amendment, the equal protection and due process clauses, federalism, the commerce clause, and the separation of powers. Emphasis also on the moral values and political theories that form our constitutional system. Usually offered every year.
Mr. Woll

POL 117a Administrative Law
[ ss ]
The role of administrative agencies in lawmaking and adjudication. Emphasis on the problem of defining and protecting the public interest, as well as the rights of individuals and groups directly involved in administrative proceedings. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. Woll

POL 191a Seminar: Punishment and Crime
[ ss ]
Examines theories justifying criminal punishment, and the practice of law enforcement, as a means of understanding our society and its values. Topics may include hate crimes, the law of self-defense, rape and others. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. Lawrence

POL 192b Seminar: Topics in Law and Political Theory
[ ss ]
Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or higher. May be repeated for credit if taught by different instructors.
Interplay among law, morality, and political theory. Specific topics vary from year to year. Usually offered every year.
Mr. Yack or Mr. Lenowitz