University of Rochester

Interdisciplinary Legal Studies Minor Launched at University

May 14, 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, English, economics, and other disciplines, is open to students planning law careers as well as to 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 may provide better preparation for law school," added Randall Curren, chair of the legal studies committee 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 have already enrolled.

The minor also has boosted interaction among faculty interested in law and society. "We realized there were faculty all across the University interested in law," Curren said, "and we could benefit from getting together." Faculty involved in the cluster plan to meet regularly to discuss their works in progress and important new books related to law.

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), Tyll van Geel (Warner School and political science), and Annabelle Lever (political science).

For more information about this program, call Curren at (585) 275-8112.