Academics and Research / Magazine Feature

University offers new major in socio-legal studies

The University of Denver will offer a new major in socio-legal studies beginning in fall 2010, formally drawing together a number of departments on campus that have a long history of interdisciplinary scholarship and teaching in law and society.

The new major will bring together resources and teachers from departments in DU’s Divisions of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, including mass communication, political science and sociology.

“We have scholars at DU who work in law and society,” says Associate Dean Susan Sterett. “It was time to take our heritage and substantial roots in legal thinking and offer a major to undergraduate students.”

Sterett says there are two features that distinguish DU’s major from other law and society programs around the country.
The first is an emphasis on service learning.

“Service learning allows students to connect their academic knowledge with daily life in worlds that may not be the most familiar to them,” she says. “Our students have interned for the public defender’s office and for the district attorney’s office, for example.” Sterett also will teach a course this winter in which DU students will tutor newly settled refugees at the Emily Griffith Opportunity School.

The second feature will be a focus on international dimensions of learning through subject matter and partnerships with programs in other countries.

“Law has been a fundamental way of organizing life,” Sterett says. “It has been a framework for understanding how we are in our world, making the study of law central to the liberal arts.”

The major also will address student concerns that they graduate with skills.

“The major will prepare them for the world they will be living in,” Sterett says. “And allow them to develop their reading and writing in a way that is excellent preparation for working in non-governmental agencies, in international business, public policy or criminology, or for attending law school.”

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