Why minor in sociolegal studies?
Most approaches to law identify justice as the first value of law and as the standard against which legal systems are judged. The Sociolegal Studies minor promotes critical interdisciplinary discussions of the often-conflicting meanings of justice that arise in a diverse society and allows for a deeper exploration of the role of law in the lives of society’s least advantaged populations. Courses offered under the minor specifically address the role of law as both empowering and disempowering the least advantaged. In this sense, the Sociolegal Studies minor fits squarely within the University’s mission to foster engaged citizens, allowing students to better understand the power and limitations of the law as an instrument of social change and social justice.
A minor in Sociolegal Studies allows students with an interest in law to examine law and its effects on society from a variety of disciplinary perspectives in an organized way. It allows students to use the methods and perspectives of various academic disciplines to study legal issues and to use the conceptual framework of the law to illuminate empirical and theoretical concerns in the various disciplines. For example, a student might use approaches from history, psychology, and philosophy to understand the evolution and content of state-sanctioned punishment; or draw on doctrinal categories from public and private law to study the changing role of market and nonmarket relations within institutions; or use approaches from anthropology, criminal justice and criminology, philosophy, and political science to better understand the concepts and limits of rights.
Although the Sociolegal Studies minor is not intended as a pre-law program or preparation for law school, the minor will ensure students are exposed to a wide range of legal issues – criminal law, human rights, constitutional rights, legal writing and analysis – for students who are interested in a legal career. It will also provide good preparation for a variety of future academic activities, including graduate work on legal topics in humanities and social science disciplines or professional school in fields such as public policy, business administration, and social work. Moreover, the Sociolegal Studies minor will provide an intellectual jumping off point for a variety of career paths in the public and private sector, including government, non-profit agencies, and advocacy.