Skip Sub Menu

Law, Politics and Society

Degree Option

Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in law, politics and society.

Description of Program

The Law, Politics and Society program offers students a multidisciplinary perspective on the complex interactions of law, culture, economics, politics, and social structure. Situated firmly within a liberal arts education, the program does not treat law as a fixed, naturally given feature of social life, or as a professional practice reserved for specialists such as lawyers, judges and legislators. Instead, the program understands law, as a pervasive part of everyday life, to be socially constructed and contested. The LPS major is designed to prepare students for effective participation as citizens in a civil society. In this major students will:

  • participate actively as citizens in civil society;
  • 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;
  • assess critically how people interpret, respond to and experience law and the legal system based on factors such as race/ethnicity, class, gender and religion;
  • deploy contemporary legal, critical and/or interpretive theories in their own analyses of political, social or legal events or situations.

Oversight for the program is provided by an interdisciplinary Advisory Council with one member from each of the core departments affiliated with the program: English, history, philosophy and religion, politics and international relations, rhetoric and communication and sociology. Advising for the major is divided among faculty in these core departments. Several courses from the Drake University Law School may be used to fulfill major requirements.

Requirements for Major

Students will be required to take the following courses:

  • LPS 001 (Introduction to Law, Politics, and Society)
  • Phil  090 (Ethics)
  • LPS 100 (Intermediate Seminar in Law, Politics, and Society)
  • LPS 190 (Senior Seminar in Law, Politics, and Society)

And at least 3 of the following 5:

  • POLS 153 (Judicial Politics)
  • PHIL 1XX (Rights and Responsibilities)
  • SCSS 151 (Criminology)
  • SCSR 140 (Communications and the Law)
  • POLS 190 (Seminar in Constitutional Law)

Students are required to take 2 courses numbered 100 or above from each of the following categories for a total of 6 courses. 

Any single course may count, for a particular student, in only one LPS major requirement category.

At least two courses numbered 100 or above must have an international focus.

 (1) Creating Law and Policy

Courses in this category will focus primarily on the structures and people that create, interpret and implement laws.  Students should leave these courses with an understanding of the political, legal and social pressures on lawmakers and legal systems, and ways that various official sites of legality interact with each other in the creation of law and policy, and the governance of society.

Inexhaustive list of examples of courses in this category:

  • Pols 151 (The American Presidency)
  • Pols 152 (Congress/Legislative Process)
  • Pols 153 (Judicial Politics)
  • Pols 155 (American Public Policy)
  • Pols 170 (International Law)
  • Econ 180 (Regulation/Antitrust)
  • Econ 109 (Public Economics)
  • Econ 115 (Labor Economics)

(2) Understanding and Responding to Contemporary Issues:

Courses in this category will engage students in an in-depth examination of particular problems facing society, focusing on identifying the complex web of contributing factors (legal, political and social) as well as possible avenues of solution. Courses are focused on particular issues and provide students with ways of thinking that will translate to examination of other issues not discussed in class.

Inexhaustive list of examples of courses in this category:

  • Pols 79/Phil 79 (Ethics in a Globalizing World)
  • Pols 125 (Post-Conflict Justice)
  • Psy 134 (Ethno-Political Conflict and Peace)
  • Phil 124 (Health and Social Justice)
  • Soc 150 (Restorative Justice)
  • ENSP 135 (Sci/Policy of Global Warming)
  • ENSP 191 (Env Sci and Political Practicum)
  • Pols 156 (Environmental Politics and Policy)
  • Pols 157 (Crime and Punishment in U.S.)
  • Phil 124 (Health and Social Justice)
  • Honr 149 (Health and Human Rights)
  • Honr 163 (Environmental Justice)
  • Pols 120 (Globalization: Salvation, Myth)
  • Pols 123 (Grassroots Globalism)

(3) Constructing Conceptions of Law, Politics and Society

Courses in this category will focus primarily on the way particular factors (social, structural, historical, cultural, rhetorical, literary) shape understanding of law, politics and society.  As a result of these courses, students should question the ideal of neutrality often presented in these realms. Students should leave these classes with a more critical and nuanced attitude toward claims of the way the law, politics and society interact and be able to critically evaluate how their beliefs about these things have shaped their view of this interaction.  Finally, these courses should provide students with ways to make decisions about different aspects of law, politics and society in the face of the recognition that such decisions are not neutral.

Inexhaustive list of examples of courses in this category:

  • Soc 150 (Restorative Justice)
  • Econ 162 (Marxian Political Economics)
  • Pols 157 (Crime and Punishment in U.S.)
  • SCSR 134 (Moral Monsters, Law, Culture)
  • SCSS 150 (Prisons and Society)
  • Hist 155 (Intro to Marxism)
  • Hist 170 (U.S. and Vietnam)
  • Hist 170 (New Women 1900-1945)
  • Hist 170 (Era of the Civil War)
  • Hist 170 (Chinese Communist Revolution)
  • Hist 170 (African-American History 1877-Present)
  • Hist 170 (African-American History to 1877)
  • Hist 170 )Gild Age & Progressive Era – U.S. 1870)
  • Eng 168 (Storytelling as Social Practice)
  • SCSR (Rhetorics of Class)
  • SCSR (Rhetorics of Race)

[ back ]

University News