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Legal Studies Minor

The Legal Studies minor is designed for students interested in the study of law or for those intending to pursue law degrees or other law-related graduate programs. The course requirements seek to strengthen the different competences assessed in the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and similar tests.

Minor Requirements (18 Credits)

Foundation Courses (9 Credits)
POL 309 Legal Studies and the Study of Law

The law governs many of our daily activities and behaviors. Who then decides what the law should be and who should be subject to it? How are laws made? What are the implications for our daily life? This course examines the law in Switzerland, Europe, and the United States, offering a cross-cultural comparison and building on concepts fundamental to political science. Initially focusing on developing a vocabulary in legal terminology, students then consider how domestic law relates to international law. The course examines the relationships between domestic and international law, considering both civil and common law. Connecting theory to practice, students may have the opportunity to visit the Federal Tribunal or attend a trial at one of the nearby courts.

POL 302 Political Philosophy

This course is designed to familiarize students with the major currents of political philosophy. It covers a broad range of central thinkers from the major philosophers of ancient Greece up to the proponents of modern-day liberalism. The course situates political philosophies in their historical context of emergence and thereby provides an overview of the history of the central ideas which are at the heart of thinking about politics, society and justice. The reading of primary and secondary sources serves as the basis for in-depth class discussions and a critical engagement with the normative underpinnings of societal organization.

WTG 200 Advanced Academic Writing: Ethics at Work

This advanced writing course consolidates students’ academic communication skills through the theme of business and work ethics. Students will engage with philosophical texts and case studies dealing with various aspects of business and/or work ethics -- distributive justice, social responsibility and environmentally conscious business practices among others -- in order to improve critical reading, argumentative writing, and oral presentation/debating skills. The course helps students understand that academic communication primarily involves entering a conversation with others and particular emphasis will be placed on responding to other people’s arguments as well as developing their own arguments based on those responses. Using the broad theme of business and work ethics as a medium for discussion, students will not only explore what it means to join an academic community and their role in that community as purveyors of knowledge but also work towards entering the job/internship market with polished application materials.

Elective Courses (9 Credits)

No more than two courses may be taken in any one department and no more than one may be applied to another major/minor.

Three of the following:

CLCS 200 Gender and Sexuality in a Global Context

This course presents an interdisciplinary introduction to key concepts in gender studies. Focusing on the way in which gender operates in different cultural domains, this class investigates the manner in which race, culture, ethnicity, and class intersect with gender. (This writing-intensive course counts towards the Academic Writing requirements).

CLCS 371 Law and Culture

This course aims to investigate law's place in culture and culture's place in law. This focus proceeds from the realization that law does not function in a vacuum but exerts a powerful influence on all manner of cultural practice and production, even as its own operation is influenced in turn by various forms of culture. Given this increasing porosity and interpermeability of Law and different forms of culture, the focus of this course is on the mutual influence between law and other discursive practices, such as literature, TV sit-coms and film. In studying a number of prominent legal cases such as Brown v the Board of Education, we will explore the following questions: What are the mechanisms by which popular representations and cultural practices find their way into legal processes and decisions? How does law in turn bleed into and influence cultural processes? Does law act as a buffer against societal assumptions about, and constructions of, gender, age, ability, sexuality and ethnicity, or does it re-enforce and re-inscribe existing social norms?

CLCS 330 The Politics of Mobility: Exile and Immigration

Beginning with the post-colonial theory of Edward Said, this class will examine the ideas of exile and immigration in a colonial and post-colonial context. This course will explore exile vs. expatriatism, language and power, movement across cultures, narrative agency and authority, and voices in the new immigrant narrative. By approaching the topic from a comparative perspective, students will be exposed to a polyphony of voices and the variety of experiences associated with exile and the construction of identity. Students will examine, in particular, contemporary fiction as a window to the context of this experience.

CLCS 350 Culture and Human Rights

''Human Rights'' has become a key selling point for organizations, political parties and social movements. And yet what is actually meant by the term often remains vague, and it is difficult to take the critical stance necessary to judge its significance. In this class we interrogate the term with a series of questions: what counts as ''human'' in the discourses surrounding Human Rights? What sorts of rights do individuals in fact have simply by virtue of being human? Do all humans have the same rights? Who gets to decide this? How has the definition changed over the last 200 years? To what extent is the term gendered, determined by class and racialized? And finally: how do different national settings change how we think about and act on ideas of Human Rights? This course will examine these questions by tracing ideas surrounding Human Rights in treatises, literary texts, films, debates and case studies from the Enlightenment to the present. Against the backdrop of foundational texts such as The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Thomas Paine's The Rights of Man, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's Vindication of the Rights of Woman, declarations by the European Court of Human Rights, the African Court on Human and People's Rights, the Geneva convention and the United Nations Human Rights Commission students will consider literary and filmic works that grapple critically with the terms they lay out. Students will also consider how NGOs such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch translate the political rhetoric to apply their own interpretations of Human Rights to their field work.

COM 180 Public Speaking

This course introduces students to the basic theory and practice of public speaking. More than simply a required skill for class and/or professional presentations, public speaking has a long political tradition in many cultures both ancient and modern. It complements civic engagement within the public sphere and plays a central role in deliberative political participation. Since the emergence of the Internet, public speaking has also become increasingly important in digital form. From a theoretical point of view, this course considers both the historical role of public speaking as it relates to socio-political change and its ongoing necessity today within global processes. From a practical point of view, students will become familiar with various rhetorical methods and concepts involved in public speaking, learn how to analyze and critically understand actual speeches, and practice public speaking in a variety of contexts. Students should leave the course with a better understanding of both the theory and practice of public speak-ing, particularly with a view towards global social engagement.

HIS 204 History of Italy from the Renaissance to the Present

Italy in many of its aspects can be considered to be a laboratory of Western modernity. The peninsula had a leading role in Western affairs during Antiquity and the Middle Ages, but this role was lost by the end of the fifteenth century. During the modern age, however, Italy continued to provide a central point of reference in the European mind. This course focuses attention on the cultural, social and political developments in Italian history in their European context since the Renaissance. Themes include the struggles over national identity in the absence of a unified nation state, the differing regions and competing centers, the interplay of culture and politics, and the relation between religion and politics.

HIS 243 Worlds of Islam

This course is an introduction to the multifaceted civilization of Islam as both a religion and a historical phenomenon. After a survey of the background and context of the emergence of Muhammad as a spiritual leader in the Arabian peninsula, the course analyzes the rapid spread of Islam to Spain in the west and India to the east in less than a hundred years. It follows the divergent paths of the emerging different Islamic cultures in the Arabian and Mediterranean regions, in Persia, India, Turkey and Africa, and it follows also the Muslim diaspora in the Christian West. The guiding question is the relation between ''normalcy'' and variety as manifest in the tensions between the importance of the holy text of the Qur'an and the impact of interpretation and tradition. The course concludes with a consideration of contemporary Islam, focusing attention on both fundamentalist approaches and open-minded ones that seek a role for Muslims in peaceful relations with the West today.

HIS 273 History of the United States

This course is an introduction to recent approaches to the political, economic, and cultural history of the United States from the eighteenth to the twenty first century. Its topics include the role of environment and space, as well as the interplay of religion, gender, ethnic relations, and immigration. It also discusses the changing role of the United States in the World from colonial times to the present.

HIS 358 Global Britishness

The concept of ‘Global Britishness’ began as loyalty to the colonial motherland on the part of Britain’s white settler colonies (Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand). This was transformed after the Second World War into a set of uneasy nationalisms by the 1970s. In recent years these ex-colonies have witnessed a re-identification with earlier concepts of Britishness (royal visits, war commemoration) at a time when the very concept of Britishness is perceived to be under threat from Scottish devolution (and possible independence) and Britain’s exit from the European Union. ‘Global Britishness’ presents a fascinating array of competing and intersecting identities across global, imperial and national lines. Students gain a greater understanding and awareness of; the processes and agencies of Britain’s imperial decline; the reactions to this among the various white settler colonies; the differences and similarities between these reactions; the practices of cultural and transnational history; and, contemporary legacies of the British Empire in the settler colonial world.