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Interdisciplinary Honors course offers students experiential learning

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

For the second year in a row, the Honors course "Science and the Law" is being offered. The course simultaneously exposes students to two different views of the criminal justice system. It is taught by Dr. Gary Skuse (College of Science) and Ms. Helen Syme, an assistant public defender in Monroe County and an adjunct faculty member at RIT. Students in the course participate in a mock trial using hypothetical evidence, and the court case is loosely based on a local incident from a few years ago. Nine attorneys from the Public Defender’s office and the office of the District Attorney, who are normally adversaries in the courtroom, volunteered their time to serve as judge and jurors. After the trial, each attorney provided feedback on the students’ performance. Several attorneys commented that they had not participated in a mock trial until well into law school and ours was as good as or better than theirs. Once again, honors students demonstrated the excellence that an RIT education is widely known for.​


Photo of Sophia Kourian (imaging science) acting as defense attorney questioning Rakshanda Jha (bioinformatics), the investigating officer, during the simulated trial in the honors course, Science and the Law. The class divides into defense and prosecution teams with members of each team serving as attorneys and expert witnesses. The class is given several weeks to assimilate the “facts” of the case and to develop their strategies.​