University of Utah
Introduction to Law
Political Science 3201
Instructor: Susan M. Olson, Associate Professor and Chair Department of Political Science
With Political Science (POLS) 3201, Introduction to Law: Service-Learning, I am adopting a new structure for service-learning, which has also been adopted for POLS 3300 (Introduction to Public Administration) and 3301. POLS 3201 is a one-credit servicelearning course associated with POLS 3200, Introduction to Law and Courts. Students must be currently registered for POLS 3200 to register for the service-learning course, but students in POLS 3200 are not required to register for POLS 3201. This is an alternative approach for making service-learning an optional part of a course, in lieu of, for example, offering a paper assignment instead of the service-learning. With my approach, all students in POLS 3200 will do the same assignments, reducing the problem of "comparing apples and oranges" in assigning final grades.
I plan to present the service-learning option the first day of class and invite representatives of the agencies where students might work to describe their opportunities and hopefully interest many of the students in signing up for POLS 3201. Students will be able to add POLS 3201 to their schedules during the normal two-week add period for registration.
Introduction to Law and Courts will be taught for the first time in Autumn 1998. It is a heavily revised version of a quarter class titled Elements of Law. The syllabus for this new course is still in development, but I enclose an updated version of the syllabus I submitted last winter or spring to the Social Science Area Committee. The course received designation as a social science "intellectual exploration" course at the integration level. I expect it to be quite a large course of perhaps 80-100 students. A preliminary syllabus for POLS 3201 is also attached.
I have not yet contacted agencies for possible placements, but I plan to do so over the summer, well before the semester begins. I have asked my department's Bennion Center liaison, Seamus Barry, to identify projects the Center already has running that may be relevant to this course, and I have several ideas myself about appropriate placements. These include Legal Aid Society, Children's Justice Center, Legal Center for People with Disabilities, American Civil Liberties Union, juvenile courts, and mediation programs run by the Third District Court and the Utah Law and Justice Center.
I will expect students in POLS 3201 to do three hours of service weekly for the one-credit course. There will also be written assignments, as discussed below, but no additional reading. Since this is my first time to plan a service-learning course, I welcome suggestions and advice from the Bennion Center staff and advisory committee. I am especially wondering if my intended assignments are overly ambitious. My plans for POLS 3201 address the criteria for service-learning courses in the following ways:
Political Science 3200: Introduction to Law and Courts (3 credits)
Course Description and Learning Objectives
This course is an introduction to the social scientific study of law. It does not presume any background in political science, and the readings are very interdisciplinary, including works by political scientists, sociologists, psychologists, anthropologists, and legal scholars. In the terms of the general education requirements, this is a social science "intellectual exploration" course at the integration level. It draws on fundamental social science ideas such as the relationships between institutions and individual behavior, between state and society (i.e., public versus private spheres), and between different social classes.
The course explores the role of law strengths and weaknesses of law as a means of social ordering and the relationship between law and politics. It examines both the impact that law has on society and the impact that society has on law through the functions of social control, dispute resolution, and social change. The course focuses mainly on the lower levels of the American legal system, routine civil, criminal, and administrative cases and the disputes that precede them. If you are interested in a class that focuses mainly on the peak of the American legal system, the U.S. Supreme Court and its role in making public policy, ask the instructor about other political science courses.
In this class you will be introduced to the idea of framing researchable questions and to different methods of social scientific inquiry. You will also learn a great deal about cur-rent social science findings about the actual functioning of legal systems from the work of scholars who follow these methods. Although the course concentrates on the contemporary American legal system, some readings compare the U.S. experience to other countries and discussion of the evolution of legal systems will give you a feel for the historical development of legal systems and behavior. Guest speakers and possibly films will supplement the readings, lectures, and class discussion.
This course has an optional one-credit service-learning add-on. During the first week several community service opportunities related to the legal system and the work requirements of the service-learning component will be presented. Students who are interested will then register for Political Science 3201 for one credit. This course is open only to students who are simultaneously enrolled in Political Science 3200.
Stephen Vago, Law and Society , 5th edition
Stewart Macaulay, Lawrence M. Friedman, John Stookey, Law & Society: Readings on the Social Study of Law
Christopher E. Smith, Courts and the Poor
Schedule of Topics
Week 1: Overview of the course and organization of service-learning component
Week 2: Varieties of legal systems and their common functions
Week 3: Theoretical and methodological approaches to law, society, and politics
Week 4: Overview of law-making, -enforcing, and -interpreting institutions
Weeks 5 and 6: Social and political influences on law-making
Weeks 7 and 8: Informal and formal social control--criminal and administrative law
Week 9: Juvenile justice
Weeks 10 and 11: Law and dispute resolution
Weeks 12 and 13: Law and social change
Weeks 14 and 15: The legal profession
POLS 3201 is a one-credit service-learning course intended to be an optional add- on to POLS 3200, Introduction to Law and Courts. Students must be currently registered for POLS 3200 to register for POLS 3201.
The subject matter of Introduction to Law and Courts is the functioning of the legal and judicial system at the grass-roots level. The effects of community norms and institutions on the legal system and vice versa are at the heart of the course. Servicelearning involves working with agencies that help citizens who are in contact with the legal system. The service-learning experience should bring alive the class readings, lectures, and discussion and show you a strong connection between academic learning and "real life." In addition, you will be providing important service to community agencies and the people they serve.
Students who register for POLS 3201 must do three hours weekly of service for a judicial agency or a community agency involved in helping people in their interactions with the legal system. Several alternative opportunities will be presented by agency representatives in the first day or two of class meetings for POLS 3200.
There will be no additional reading assignments for POLS 3201. The readings assigned for POLS 3200 should provide ample material for students to write their final paper for POLS 3201.
The grade for POLS 3201 will be determined as follows:
25% Weekly entries in a reflections journal (collected and read bi-weekly)
25% Quality of service provided (assessed with assistance of agency supervisor)
35% 8- 10 page paper relating service-learning experience to content of course
15% Oral presentation of service-learning experience to students in POLS 3200*
In the fourth, eighth and twelfth weeks of the semester, reflections
sessions will be scheduled for group discussion of the
service-learning experience. Presentations to the students in POLS
3200 will occur in the last 2-3 weeks of the semester.
Date: Fri, 30 Jan 1998 15:13:45 MST
From: Renee Buchanan <RBUCHAN@ssb1.saff.utah.edu>
Subject: Political Science 3201