Law, Politics and Society

Law, Politics and Society

The Law, Politics and Society (LPS) program offers students an interdisciplinary perspective on the complex interactions of law, culture, economics, politics, and social structure. The program does not treat law as a fixed, naturally given feature of social life, nor as a professional practice reserved only for specialists such as lawyers, judges, and legislators. Instead, we understand law as a pervasive part of everyday life, socially constructed and often contested.

As a liberal arts major, the LPS program is designed to provide students with a broad and interdisciplinary education that contributes to their pre-professional and personal growth, in preparation for effective participation in a civil society and for ethical global citizenship.

LPS students take courses from a wide variety of departments and faculty at Drake, with ample opportunities to integrate their interdisciplinary learning into an understanding of the larger field of sociolegal studies. From introductory courses in the major, to small topical seminars on issues as diverse as policing and drug use, human rights and international law, and reproductive law and politics, students will encounter a range of ways to study and understand the complex interactions of law, politics, and society in a globalizing, multicultural, and dynamic world.

They will take these understandings with them into internships and experiential learning opportunities and later into jobs, graduate school, and professional education.

Emphasizing critical thinking, excellence in oral and written communication, and the ability to listen closely to multiple perspectives, the LPS degree is a rigorous and interesting way to examine law and its relationship to social and political life.

In this major students will:

  • participate actively in their communities;
  • read and understand legal texts, court decisions, and theoretical writing, and use those texts effectively to convey complex ideas and arguments in writing;
  • know and articulate the difference between law as a professional practice and law as a topic of liberal arts inquiry;
  • demonstrate awareness of how issues of justice, morality, authority, order, legitimacy, individualism, and community create tensions within ordered social life;
  • explain how historical development and different cultural practices, social organizations, and political systems affect law and justice around the world;
  • examine how factors such as race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, and religion impact legal, social, and political life; and
  • deploy contemporary legal, critical, and/or interpretive theories in their own analyses of political, social, or legal events or situations.

FACULTY LPS has three core faculty members, and an advisory council comprised of faculty from throughout the University. LPS faculty specialize in American Indian law and politics; race, gender and law; social movements and legal mobilization; drugs, law, and society; policing; and global legal issues. 

ACADEMIC PREPARATION No specific preparation is required to study law, politics, and society. LPS majors tend to be curious about a wide variety of things—from government and history to philosophy, religion, and cultural studies. Students who are particularly interested in the nature of public life, and in the engagement with political and social issues, are often drawn to the LPS major.

REQUIREMENTS FOR MAJOR  LPS majors are required to take an introductory sequence of courses (LPS 001 and LPS 002), a mid-level LPS seminar focusing on constitutional law (LPS 100), and the Senior Seminar in the major (LPS 190). They also take four LPS-designated courses outside of the core curriculum and an additional six courses from related disciplines. Through their coursework, students will encounter the structures and people that create, interpret, implement, and are affected by law; they will engage in in-depth examination of problems and opportunities facing contemporary societies and identify the complex web of contributing legal, political, and social factors—as well as possible solutions to those problems. Students will leave the major with a more critical and nuanced understanding of the historical underpinnings of contemporary law, politics, and society, able to critically evaluate normative claims and craft their own unique and imaginative responses to current issues.

DRAKE CURRICULUM The Drake Curriculum, required of all undergraduates, is designed to help students meet personal and professional goals as they acquire fundamental knowledge and abilities in ten Areas of Inquiry, including communication, critical thinking, artistic experience, historical consciousness, information and technology literacy, international and multicultural experiences, scientific and quantitative literacy, values and ethics, and engaged citizenship. Students work closely with their academic advisers to craft a program of study in general education that prepares students for civic and professional leadership.

The Drake Curriculum also requires a First Year Seminar, which fosters development of critical thinking and written and oral communication skills through a topical focus, and a Senior Capstone in which students demonstrate the capacity to bring information, skills, and ideas to bear on one project.

INTERNSHIPS & OPPORTUNITIES Drake's location in Des Moines, Iowa's capital city, gives LPS majors the opportunity to intern in a variety of settings including local law firms, state and local government, social service agencies, with political campaigns, and on behalf of social movement organizations and interest groups. Drake also offers a Washington Semester Program and opportunities for study abroad; the LPS major is structured to encourage off-campus study for a semester or a year. All LPS students will engage in experiential learning, which may involve service-learning, through at least one of their LPS-designated courses. 

CAREER OPTIONS LPS majors use their degrees for entrance into state, local, and federal government; international service; business careers; social work; journalism; teaching; and politics. Drake law, politics and society graduates pursue a variety of post-graduate educational opportunities, including law school and graduate programs.

LPS students can take advantage of several opportunities to enrich their undergraduate education and transition into post-graduate life. Many of our students study abroad with guidance from Drake International; they engage in J-Term and May Term study with Drake faculty traveling to places like New York City, Uganda, South Africa, the Galapagos Islands, and Egypt; and they take part in the 3+3 program, which enables them to earn their undergraduate degree in LPS and their law degree from Drake University Law School in six years instead of seven. In the 3+3 program, Drake LPS majors can count two law courses, taken in their junior year or during 1L, toward their LPS graduation requirements. Students should speak with their academic adviser about the flexibility of the major for achieving their goals in terms of study aborad, the 3+3 program, and other opportunities of interest to majors.

STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS AND ACTIVITIES Drake LPS students have benefited from participation in Drake’s mock trial and moot court teams, which have been effective and successful at the highest levels of national competition. LPS students also participate in Drake's pre-law fraternity and have their own LPS student organization.