LPS 135: Special Topics in LPS

Summer 2016:

LPS 135: On the Docket
This online course will follow Supreme Court decision-making in real time: we will watch SCOTUSblog for decisioin as they are handed down in May nad June, reading briefs, the press, and the decisions, listening to oral arguments, and writing opinion and analysis pieces to interpret them. Cases this term include important questions for women's health and reproduction, deferred action immigration, mandatory minimums in sentencing, liability, and tort on tribal land, and more. We will identify key cases, learn how to learn about them, and investigate their likely impact-as the Court decides.

LPS 135: Marijuana: A Case Study of Law
The past two decades have seen a slow but steady shift in the attitudes and policies surrounding marajuana in the U.S. While marijuana legalization was once a fringe political issue, it is now receiving serious consideration. 40 states (including DC) have legalized some form of cannabis for medical use. Four states and DC have legalized it for recreational use. Legaliztion is trending in South America as well. Proponents frame legalization as both a justice issue and an economic opportunity. Opponents express concern about increased use of a substance that has been illegal for so long. In this course we will examine the current debate over legalization. We will examine states in which marijuana is legal, as well as those states in which it remains illegal. We will engage in critical analysis of the debates over marijuana, identifying the values that underlie the various perspectives on marijuana legalization. Finally, we will articulate our own perspectives on marijuana legalization, including a policy proposal for Iowa.

Spring 2016:

LPS 135: Uncomfortable Transactions
Law and the Sale of (Parts of) Persons. Today and in history, people often buy and sell body parts, bodily fluids, corpses, and other people. Sometimes these transactions are legal and sometimes they are illegal. Either way, these economic exchanges often make us uneasy because of our beliefs abuot what is and is not appropriate to buy and sell. We will examin activities like the slave trade, prostitution, the organ trade, commercial surrogacy, and the sale of plasms, semen, and human eggs. Through historical, contemprorary, and theoretical work we will investigate these transactions and ask what they can tell us about the relationships between law, markets, and culture.

LPS 135: Who Bosses Whom (And How)?
Employers and the need for employment are significant factors that shape the lives of a great many people. This power in people's lives is in many respects private, rather than public. This class will investigate the role of law in regulating and maintaining the authority of employers and the need for employment. More broadly, we will treat the focus on employment as a case study through which to address larger questions about the relationship between law, social class, and private centers of authority.

Fall 2015:

LPS 135: Uncomfortable Transactions
Law and the Sale of (Parts of) Persons. Today and in history, people often buy and sell body parts, bodily fluids, corpses, and other people. Sometimes these transactions are legal and sometimes they are illegal. Either way, these economic exchanges often make us uneasy because of our beliefs abuot what is and is not appropriate to buy and sell. We will examin activities like the slave trade, prostitution, the organ trade, commercial surrogacy, and the sale of plasms, semen, and human eggs. Through historical, contemprorary, and theoretical work we will investigate these transactions and ask what they can tell us about the relationships between law, markets, and culture.

LPS 135: Food and Law: Agriculture

Spring 2015:

LPS 135: Drugs, Law and Society (See Fall 2013 description)

Fall 2014:

LPS 135: American Indian Law and Politics
This course examines contemporary issues in American Indian law and politics, among them: casino ownership, environmental stewardship, electoral politics, cultural protection and revitalization, tribal courts, and territorial sovereignty. In all of these cases, there are debates about the proper role for tribal people, tribal governments, federal and state entities, and the non-Indian public. In this course, we will focus on several arenas for dialogue and dissent in this course: tribal cultural spaces, tribal public representations, courtrooms and Congress, academia, and the press. We will attempt to understand the competing worldviews of those engaged in these dialogues about tribal sovereignty and survival, and the very real economic and political interests at stake in these debates. In some of these cases, the debate hasn’t moved forward, and the issues lack acceptable resolution; in other cases, productive dialogue has created truly innovative solutions to seemingly intractable problems of poverty, powerlessness, and racism.

LPS 135: Crime and Film
See Summer 2014 description

LPS 135: Witches, Sorcerers and the State: Policing Supernatural Practices
This course will explore how views about witchcraft and sorcery changed over time and have varied in different regions of the world. With an emphasis on Britain and its former colonies in North America, the Caribbean, and Africa, it will examine why laws about witchcraft were passed, who was prosecuted and how societies responded to these statutes. This course will cover the Salem Witch Trials, religious rituals in Caribbean slave rebellions, and contemporary violence against “witches” in Africa, among other things.

Summer 2014:

LPS 135: Law in the Fiction of John Grisham
In this course, we will read and discuss several Grisham novels, and watch the films corresponding to those books. We’ll also read secondary sources devoted to examining, critiquing, celebrating, and learning from Grisham’s work, and broader more theoretical work on the role of popular culture in law, and the role of law in popular culture. We will read five Grisham books, and watch three films based on those novels, as well as engage several academic articles on Grisham, his writing, and the legal profession.

LPS 135: Crime and Film
Why do people commit crime? This is one of the most fundamental questions facing any society and its justice system. In this course we use film to survey the various explanations of crime put forward by scholars. At the same time, we will examine how film provides its own explanations of crime, shaping public attitudes in the process. This dual focus will also allow us to think reflexively about how our consumption of media shapes our thinking about crime and, in turn, our thoughts on law, justice and related matters.

Spring 2014:

LPS 135: Thinking Like a Lawyer: Legal Education in the U.S.
This class explores the development of legal thinking and education in the United States, using speeches and writings of prolific jurists, examples from legal education, and a mix of history and rhetorical studies. In 1897 Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., asserted that the aim of the law “is prediction, the prediction of the incidence of the [use of the] public force through the instrumentality of the courts.” With this pronouncement Holmes began a sea change in thinking about the nature of law. Holmes’ theory promoted an “enlightened skepticism” towards the law, and began an era of critical thought towards law that continues today. How, though, could a speech delivered over 100 years ago influence legal scholars today? The thesis of this class is that despite several radical paradigm shifts within jurisprudence, which have challenged basis and legitimacy of law, that there remains a community of legal thinkers. What is the basis of this community? How does the community continue to identify as such even when the game of “law” and legal thinking has changed?

LPS 135: Drugs, Law & Society
See Fall 2013 description.

LPS 135: Property in the U.S.: A Geography and History
There are many ways to think about property. Some think of it as land or inheritance, others as money or things purchased, like houses, boats, TVs, and so on, while others think of it as a representation of wealth, power, and exploitation. Property has been thoughts, feelings, rights, or even people at one time or another. There is no one way to think about property, then, and yet there is a way to think about it within the framework of a nation-state. With this course, we will learn about the legal foundation on which property was established as a dominant mode of thought and morality, and thereby expressed as such through law and public policy in the United States. The course is traces the historical acceptance of the concept of property into the modern, secular equivalent of the holy trinity: personal life, personal liberty, and private right; after which we examine the development of property as a powerful concept in the construction and administration of law; and then we conclude with an analysis of contemporary writings that present evolutionary forms of property that may change the meaning of the concept in the United States, now and in the future.

Fall 2013:

LPS 135: Comparative Constitutions
This course will enhance students' understanding of why we need constitutions, the purpose of different constitutional designs, and the problems solved and left unresolved in constitutions. After a brief survey of constitutional theory and design, we will compare the systems and institutions established by constitutions in different countries, ranging from established western democracies to new democracies and transitional regimes. Grounded in historic developments as well as contemporary context, students will engage the contemporary constitutional debates in the United States through a comparative perspective.

LPS 135: Drugs, Law & Society 
This course examines the social, legal and political dimensions of drugs, drug use and drug regulation, focusing on the United States, in global and comparative perspective. A full range of drugs, both legal and illegal, will be discussed. Topics include: the historical development of drug policy in the United States, including the War on Drugs; the production, distribution and consumption of different types of drugs; drug addiction, therapeutics and recovery; the cultural construction of drugs and drug user identities; attempts to regulate drugs and drug users and their place in the context of state-making; the impact of drug regulations on the legal system, particularly criminal justice; and alternatives to contemporary drug policy and politics.

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ArtSci News
September 30, 2016
The inaugural Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education ranking of U.S. colleges placed Drake University at 149 in a list that includes more than 1,000 schools nationwide.
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