Undergraduate

Legal Studies Learning Goals

Law, broadly conceived, is a social institution that both shapes and is shaped by social, political, historical, cultural, and economic change. Law and society scholars thus agree that law "is too important to be left to the lawyers," and seek to understand the law through historical, cultural, and empirical approaches. The Legal Studies program is not a pre-law program; instead, students receive interdisciplinary training that emphasizes the reciprocal relationships between law and society key to understanding the social environment. Legal Studies adjunct majors, majors, and minors study legal actors, legal processes, and legal institutions through the perspectives and methods of a variety of disciplines—including history, sociology, political science, philosophy, economics, African-American studies, literature, gender studies, psychology, Latin@ studies, religious studies, and Asian-American studies. At the same time, students use the conceptual framework of the law to illuminate empirical and theoretical concerns in these fields.

Graduates of our program are well trained to become active and thoughtful citizens engaged with local and global questions of power and justice and with the role of law in everyday life. Our graduates are ideally situated to succeed in careers in law, policy, education, politics, and in graduate work in the social sciences and humanities.

Upon completion of the program, Legal Studies adjunct majors, majors, and minors will have: 

  1. Broad knowledge of the distinct roles played by different actors (judges, legislatures,   lawyers, reporters, litigants, voters, etc.) within legal systems.
  2. Broad knowledge of social science theories of law, and of the way different disciplines understand and approach the study of law.
  3. Broad knowledge of the reciprocal relationship between law and society.
  4. Clear understanding of the difference between the profession of law and the empirical study of law.
  5. Familiarity with key jurisprudential concepts and theories.
  6. Familiarity with global and comparative perspectives in law.
  7. Familiarity with law’s relationship to institutional and organizational structure and change. 
  8. Familiarity with the relationship of law and inequality.
  9. Familiarity with legal rhetoric, argument, communication skills.

Adjunct majors and majors graduating from our program with skills that are valued in a variety of fields. They will be able to:

  1. Read and analyze diverse primary legal and political sources carefully and accurately, with attention to the author’s perspective, position, and credibility, and to the source’s general context.
  2. Be familiar with research methods and best practices regarding qualitative and quantitative data, written materials, and electronic databases.
  3. Read, evaluate, summarize, and engage with scholarly works by others, and be able to analyze authors’ arguments for evidence, context, strength, and credibility.
  4. Understand how to work with and situate one’s own work within existing scholarship and how to properly cite facts, ideas, and scholarship.
  5. Generate original research questions regarding the relationship of law and society and devise research strategies for answering research questions.
  6. Make clearly written and organized arguments that are well supported by primary sources.
  7. Design and execute an original research project.

Our minors will be able to:

  1. Read and analyze diverse primary legal and political sources carefully and accurately, with attention to the author’s perspective, position, and credibility, and to the source’s general context.
  2. Read, evaluate, summarize, and engage with scholarly works by others, and be able to analyze authors’ arguments for evidence, context, strength, and credibility.
  3. Understand how to work with and situate one’s own work within existing scholarship and how to properly cite facts, ideas, and scholarship.
  4. Make clearly written and organized arguments that are well supported by primary sources.