Legal Studies Minor

Overview for Legal Studies Minor

Recognizing the critical role that law plays in societies, the minor in legal studies provides students with courses that deepen and expand their understanding of law as practiced, especially its influence on social, political, and economic institutions.

Notes about this minor:

  • Students majoring in criminal justice, philosophy, or political science can count a maximum of 3 credits from their home departments. Posting of the minor on the student's academic transcript requires a minimum GPA of 2.0 in the minor.
  • Notations may appear in the curriculum chart below outlining pre-requisites, co-requisites, and other curriculum requirements (see footnotes).

The plan code for Legal Studies Minor is LEGAL-MN.

Curriculum for 2023-2024 for Legal Studies Minor

Current Students: See Curriculum Requirements

Required Course
Choose one of the following:
Law and Society
This course focuses on the relationships between law and other social institutions, and examines the values and interests that are expressed in law and shaped by legal structures and processes. Consensus and conflict perspectives of the law are compared and contrasted, and applied to understanding the law's impact on everyday life. This course takes an explicit interdisciplinary approach to understanding law. Lecture 3 (Biannual).
Law & Society
This course focuses on the relationships between law and other social institutions, and examines the values and interests that are expressed in law and shaped by legal structures and processes. This course takes an explicit interdisciplinary approach to understanding law and is designed for those interested in a critical inquiry of the nature of law within a framework of a broad liberal arts education. Class 3, Credit 3 (F) Lecture 3 (Spring).
Choose four of the following:*
Communication Law and Ethics
This course examines major principles and trends in communication law. The course analyzes a broad range of issues related to the First Amendment, intellectual property, and media regulation. Special attention is paid to discussing the major ethical perspectives and issues surrounding contemporary communication behavior. Lecture 3 (Spring).
Criminal Law
Criminal Law deals with the substantive and procedural criminal law. Characteristics of crimes against people, property, and the state will be examined. Emphasis will be placed on the nature of criminal conduct, the requirement of criminal intent, and legal causation. In addition, the principal defenses will be examined. (Prerequisites: CRIM-110 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
This course provides students with an understanding of the recognized functions of courts in the American criminal justice system. Jurisdiction, policies and procedures of courts in the administration of criminal justice, including trial and appellate courts, will be discussed. Courts will be examined at the local, state and federal levels. (Prerequisites: CRIM-110 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
Provides the student with an awareness of what types of evidence are admissible in a criminal trial. Includes a comprehensive analysis of the most frequently used rules of evidence. There are readings and discussions pertaining to the nature of real, testimonial, hearsay and circumstantial evidence. Examines rules concerning the cross-examination of witnesses, exceptions to the exclusion of hearsay evidence, the burden of proof, the provinces of the judge and of the jury, legal presumptions, and the exclusion of illegally obtained evidence. Lecture 3 (Biannual).
Major Issues in Criminal Justice
Focuses on contemporary issues and topics not otherwise distinctly incorporated in established criminal justice courses. Concentrates on student discussion and interaction surrounding required readings on topics such as crime prevention and issues in the prosecution/court system. Recent examples include cyberlaw, prisoner re-entry restorative justice, wrongful convictions, crime mapping, crime analysis, non-traditional courts, legal controversies in the law, substance abuse, and legal research. (Prerequisites: CRIM-110 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
Symbolic Logic
An introduction to symbolic, or formal, deductive logic and techniques, such as truth tables, truth trees, and formal derivations. The emphasis will be on propositional (or sentential) logic and first-order predicate logic. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
Philosophy of Law
An introduction to philosophical analysis centering on the nature, extent and justification of law, the nature of legal thought, and the problems and theories of justice and the relationship between law, ethics and morality. Lecture 3 (Spring).
Social and Political Philosophy
An examination of some of the main problems of social and political philosophy through an analysis, comparison and critical examination of various views concerning the natures of individuality and society and the relations between them. (Prerequisites: Completion of one (1) course in any of the following disciplines: PHIL, POLS, SOCI, or CRIM.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
 Tech and the Law
This course investigates developments in law and technology, as well as broader interactions between new technologies, legal development, and social values and principles. We consider ethical and policy implications of new technologies, and the potential and limitations of laws regulating such technologies. Topics include free speech, cyberbullying, privacy, algorithmic bias, and criminal procedure in the digital age. The course will familiarize students with reading legal cases, contemporary scholarly commentary and legislation. Lecture 3 (Spring).
International Law and Organizations
International Law and Organizations is the study of justice and government among nations. The course covers a range of theoretical and substantive topics, including theories of international law, the ethical foundations that underlie these theories, the historical development of international law, and the historical development and effectiveness of international organizations. There is a focus on the historical development of international law, examining the ethical dilemmas it presents, and exploring how these dilemmas manifest themselves in the United Nations and other international organizations. The course addresses various substantive issues such as war, sovereignty, natural law, humanitarianism, the ethical implications of existing international organizations and proposed reforms, and the influence of hegemonic power. (Prerequisites: POLS-120 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall or Spring).
Human Rights in Global Perspective
This course explores the ethical aspects, both domestically and internationally, and the institutional and political aspects of human rights. Issues covered include the ethics of human rights; the relationship between civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights; the meaning and impact of humanitarian and international human rights law; the impact of cultural relativism in the definition and assessment of the promotion and protection of human rights; the significance of different religious perspectives; the question of the legitimacy of humanitarian interventions and the effects of globalization on the perception and practice of the ethics of human rights. Lecture 3 (Fall).
Constitutional Law
A study of the Constitution of 1787 and the manner in which it was written. The focus of the course is on the way the people have, through the Constitution, delegated powers and responsibilities of government to the Congress, the President, the Courts and the States. Selected Supreme Court opinions will be considered to shed light on how the Constitution has been read and how thoughtful citizens might read it. Lecture 3 (Fall).
Constitutional Rights and Liberties
This course explores the role of Constitutional Rights and Liberties in the American republic and its role in maintaining liberal democratic freedoms. The course places emphasis on the First Amendment, the value of free speech, its limitations, and the ways in which the Supreme Court has balanced interest in free speech against other interests. We also read canonical cases in religious freedoms, Equal Protection and Due Process, and criminal procedure and the rights of the accused. A key objective will be to develop, through writing and discussion, skills involved in effective critical analysis. Since effective critical analysis requires that we understand the ideas we attempt to criticize, we will place at least as much emphasis on trying to clarify the various positions we encounter as we will place on trying to show why we think these positions are right or wrong. This course is designed to introduce students to the challenges and processes behind reading legal cases and the skills tested in traditional law school settings. As such, it serves as an introduction to law school pedagogy. Students will be expected to master ‘case briefing’ and breaking down cases to their component parts, participating in class under the Socratic method, applying case law to hypotheticals, and performing in in-class debates and case presentations. Lecture 3 (Spring).
Classical Constitutionalism, Virtue & Law
This course discusses classical responses to the quest for the best political regime. How should governments be organized? What ethical values motivate this search? What does the design of governments have to do with the character of its citizens? Is there such a thing as a national character or spirit? Is there an ideal constitution that can illuminate political and ethical questions today? This course will examine classical understandings of constitutionalism as the means for encouraging virtue through law, in contrast to modern views that attempt to link the value of liberty to property. We will investigate questions of human nature, justice, ethics, and the good life. Lecture 3 (Biannual).
Modern Constitutionalism, Liberty & Equality
This course examines the founding principles of modern constitutionalism and the modern state. Special attention will be paid to the theory and practice of the principles of equality, liberty, and consent. A major effort throughout the course will be made to consider the assessments and prescriptions for modern constitutionalism offered by American and continental political thinkers. Lecture 3 (Spring).

* Students majoring in criminal justice, philosophy, or political science may only count one course from their home department toward the requirements of the minor.