Perspective Courses


Bioethics & the Law             LAW 655
3 Hours

This course examines the interaction of ethics, medicine and law. Topics vary from year to year, but may include: defining death; "the right to die"; doctor-assisted suicide; informed consent; defining life; human reproduction, including abortion, sterilization, artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, surrogacy and genetic screening; and access to advanced technology. The focus is on an examination of the law covering these issues and the relationship of various ethical framework for analyzing these issues to this law. Examination.

Conflict of Laws                    LAW 422

2 Hours

The principal focus of the course is "choice of law" -- the methods used by courts in the United States to decide the applicable law in cases that, in their parties or events, involve more than one state or country. The course also briefly examines the respect owed a judgment of a court of another state or country. The course meets for two hours each week, and students ordinarily earn 2 credit hours for completing it. However, a student may earn a third credit hour if, in addition to fulfilling the usual course requirements (including an end-of-semester exam), the student writes a research paper on an approved topic. Anyone who wishes to write such a paper should register for both Conflict of Laws and one credit hour of Independent Research and Writing with the professor.

Critical Race Theory/Critical Race Feminism                 LAW 1005
3 Hours

This course introduces students to Critical Race Theory and Critical Race Feminism. The class will explore three major questions during the semester: What comprises Critical Race Theory and Critial Race Feminism? Do these areas of study remain relevant? If so, what can legal scholars, educators, and practitioners draw from them to effect social justice through legal institutions? Each student is required to complete 3 short papers, including a formal written critique of a scholarly article. All paper topics are subject to professor approval. Additionally, each student must facilitate a class discussion on required readings and keep a journal reflecting their reactions to readings and class discussions. This course is graded. Grading will be based on the quality of the papers, class facilitation and participation, and the completion of regular journal entries. No prerequisite.

International Law                 LAW 481

3 Hours

An introduction to public international law. The substantive coverage of the course includes peaceful settlements of disputes, international agreements in international and domestic law, the evolving law of the sea, human rights, and international attempts at controlling the use of armed force. Particular attention is paid to the differences in the evolution and enforcement of rules in decentralized systems.

International Law - Distance Format    3 Hours

An introduction to public international law. The substantive coverage of the course includes peaceful settlements of disputes, international agreements in international and domestic law, the evolving law of the sea, human rights, and international attempts at controlling the use of armed force. Particular attention is paid to the differences in the evolution and enforcement of rules in decentralized systems.  This course is taught in synchronous video format.  Students may not take this course if they have previously taken International Law.

Islamic Law in Comparative Perspective               LAW 1002
3 Hours

This course explores a major historical civilization and its legal tradition and their manifestations in the contemporary world. Muslims make up almost one quarter of the world’s population. They are the majority in approximately one quarter of the countries of the world (i.e., nearly 50 countries across Asia and Africa) and a significant minority in many other countries, including the United States. Study of Islamic Law, then, invites comparisons with the other monotheistic religious faiths (Judaism and Christianity) and with other legal traditions (including the treatment of thorny “church-state” issues); contributes to a more informed and constructive relationship between actors in the United States, including U.S. lawyers and their clients, and actors in the increasingly volatile Islamic world; and promotes awareness of the heterogeneity across the contemporary Islamic world and the dissolution of simplistic stereotypes about Islam, Islamic Law, and Muslims. The course is divided into three main parts (1) Islamic History and Islamic Civilization (including the Sunni-Shi’ite Schism); (2) Foundations of Classical Islamic Law (Sources of Law; The Four Sunnite Schools of Law); (3) Substantive Law (The Five Pillars of Islam, and a selection from the following: Family Law and Women; Family law and Children; Inheritance Law; Criminal Law; Commercial Law, Capitalism, and Global Trade; Banking Law, Capitalism, and Global Finance; International law). There will be a final take-home examination, subject to a 15-page limit to be returned within a specified time. The exact timing will be determined following class discussion. The take-home exam and the course will be graded on a numeric basis. As part of the course, students are also asked to prepare a 10 page country report on one of the 50 or so majority Muslim countries. Students will research the history of that country and the extent to which Islamic Law, in one of its classical forms or in a modified form, is applied in that country, including recognition by the official state legal system. These reports will be shared with the rest of the class, and this component of the course will be graded on a Pass/Fail basis.

Jurisprudence           LAW 492
3 Hours

An overview of the major concerns of legal theory, the validity of law and the legitimacy of legal systems, and the relative merits of hierarchical legal structures as opposed to decentralized, customary systems.The topics that are usually covered include: natural law, positivism, American and Scandinavian realism, Marxism, and the historical and anthropological schools of jurisprudence.


Law & Economics      LAW 498

3 Hours

This course explores current issues in the interplay between law and economics.  For example, who “owns” wildlife, natural resources, pollution, DNA, body parts, fetuses, art, trademarks, discoveries and ideas?  Are contract, tort and criminal law principles efficient?  Should government regulate sports leagues, banking, cable t.v., and the professions?  No economics background required.

Law, Genetics & Neuroscience       LAW 308

3 Hours

The course will explore the four major areas in which law and genetics now intersect: (1) prediction, the ability to anticipate or forecast human disease and behavior based on powerful new techniques in neuroimaging; (2) litigation, which includes DNA testing, lie detecting, evaluating memory, and so on; (3) confidentiality and privacy, which includes but is not limited to the use of genetic data by insurers and others; and (4) patents–specifically, patenting biological findings related to genetic materials. Other topics that will be reached include reproductive technologies and behavioral genetics.

Race, Racism & American Law                   LAW 667
3 Hours

This course explores the way in which law is used both to combat and to legitimate racism in American society. It will trace the relationship between racism and American law from the colonial period to the beginning of the 20th century. It will cover the Houston/Marshall legal strategy to dismantle separate but equal as an equal protection standard, and focus on current racism issues in the contexts of the criminal justice system, voting, education, housing, employment and domestic relations. There will be special attention to the theory of affirmative action and related remedial concepts. Reading will consist of three chapters from Higginbotham's, In the Matter of Color, selected court opinions, Professor Derrick Bell's treatise, Race, Racism and American Law, and selected articles. Each week of the semester, the last class hour will be devoted to a Race, Racism and the American Law hypothetical. Each hypothetical will highlight the topic discussion for that week through the vehicle of a lawsuit, an administrative hearing, or some other forum where at least two sides will be heard. For that hour, students will be assigned to prepare for the hypothetical. Preparation and presentation for the hypotheticals will count for 1/3 of the course grade. A paper for the course will count the other 2/3 of the grade.