University of Rochester

Interdisciplinary Legal Studies Minor Launched at University

May 2, 1996

A legal studies minor that examines law from a variety of perspectives has been instituted at the University of Rochester. The program, offering courses in philosophy, political science, history, and economics, is open to students planning law careers as well as those wishing to hone analytical and writing skills.

The minor clusters courses for students interested in law, but it differs from the standard prelaw programs offered at other universities.

"What makes our program different from pre-professional training is its process orientation," said philosophy professor and chair Richard Feldman, a member of the program's management committee. "We're emphasizing broadly relevant analytical techniques and ways of thinking related to law."

"It's a broader interdisciplinary approach than official prelaw programs, which we think might be better for law school," added Randall Curren, a committee member who teaches in the philosophy department and the Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development.

The minor furthers understanding of law and the multiple functions it plays in different societies, and encourages the development of writing skills.

Undergraduate demand for a legal studies minor was substantial, Curren said. Approximately 60 students attended an interest meeting in the fall, and nine students are now enrolled.

The minor also has boosted interaction among faculty interested in law and society. "Some of us realized there were faculty all across the University interested in law," Curren said, "and we could benefit from getting together."

Students who plan to declare a minor in legal studies must complete a program of six courses, designed in conjunction with a faculty adviser. Advisers must be drawn from the program management committee, which includes professors Curren and Feldman, as well as John Bennett (philosophy), James Johnson (political science), Sam Nelson (English), and Tyll van Geel (Warner School and political science).

For more information about this program, call Curren at (585) 275-8361.