Critical Perspectives on the Law: Issues of Race, Gender, Class and Social Change

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Fall 2012 Seminar
Meets: T 5:00pm - 7:00pm in WCC Room 3012
2 classroom credits

This seminar will focus on the relationship of race, gender, and class to different social change strategies. We shall explore the role of lawyers in influencing contemporary public policy and the role of legal discourse in framing issues such as access to, the diversity of, and participation within higher education; the use of the criminal justice system as a major instrument of urban public policy; gay marriage; issues of assimilation v structural reform; the role of gender within the larger society as well as within communities of color. We shall attempt to identify the ways in which the adversarial dynamics of our legal system influence policy choices between means and ends, the zero-sum nature of conflict, and the role of racial, ethnic, gender and economic hierarchy. We will use interdisciplinary readings, experiential learning and case studies to examine various discourse and social change frames for identifying, reframing and problem-solving concrete social justice issues to facilitate social change. Each student will have the opportunity to work with faculty and with other students to plan and help facilitate one of the class sessions.

Students will be eligible to receive a total of 3 credits: two classroom credits for the seminar and, if desired, an optional writing credit. Students can also get optional clinical credits in conjunction with the seminar. Admission is by permission of the instructor, based on your statement of interest submitted to Janet Moran at

Subject Areas: Constitutional Law & Civil Rights , Legal & Political Theory .