Law, Politics, & Society

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Introduction to the systems, practices, and intersections of law, politics, and society, as well as the various scholarly approaches to the study of those systems, practices, and interactions.

LPS 002: CRITICAL CONCEPTS IN LPS, 3 credit hrs.
In this course, students will be introduced to the critical concepts underpinning the study of Law, Politics, and Society. Students will engage in learning about concepts such as ideology, justice and injustice, jurisprudence, globalization, inequality and equality, community, authority, legitimacy, and individualism. Students will also engage in the study of concepts key to understanding the workings of the major; they will learn about intentional interdisciplinarity, critical analysis, the perceived "law/politics divide," comparative and historical research, and the idea of paradigmatic transition.

LPS 035: SPECIAL TOPICS IN LPS (Lower Division), 3 credit hrs.
Units of study focusing on introduction to special topics, debates, and issues within the field of Law, Politics, and Society.

Recent Courses Offered:

Law and Borders of Belonging
Who is fully American? What happens to people who are not fully American? Often, law has provided the vocabulary for asking these questions, and defined the consequences for the answers. This course focuses on times and places when law has sometimes been a force for injustice in American history. We will pay particular attention to discrimination against people due to their gender, disability status, sexuality, and race. We will also discuss the ways law is both informed by and helps create ideas within American culture more broadly.

This course uses case law as a jumping off point for the application of interdisciplinary knowledge. In it, students examine particular strands of United States constitutional law, using historical, journalistic, political science, sociological, and other disciplinary modes to understand the development of doctrine over time, and the impact of law on public life. Required for majors.

LPS 135: SPECIAL TOPICS IN LPS, 3 credit hrs.
Units of study focusing on special topics, debates, and issues within the field of Law, Politics, and Society. Prereq.: LPS 001 or permission of instructor.

Recent Courses Offered:

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.

Marijuana Legalization: A Case Study of Law and Social Change
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.

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.

LPS 111: 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.

LPS 137: American Indian Law and Politics, 3 credit hrs.
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: tribal cultural spaces, tribal public representations, courtrooms and Congress, academia, and the media. 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.

This course will introduce students to the case law, national politics, and grassroots movements surrounding a number of issues within "reproductive politics" in the United States. It focuses on the nature of the debate, and asks if there are issues around which people may find agreement, particular voices that have not been heard, and policies that have not been explored.

Units of study focusing primarily on international and global aspects of special topics, debates, and issues within the field of Law, Politics, and Society.

LPS 190: SENIOR SEMINAR, 3 credit hrs.
The senior seminar in Law, Politics, and Society is the required capstone course for those graduated with the major. Restricted to seniors and majors.

This course enables students to engage in directed reading and research in the field of Law, Politics, and Society. Supervised by faculty in the major.

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