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DATE: Sept. 24, 2003

"Law and society" program in CASL

DEARBORN---The University of Michigan-Dearborn has started a new interdisciplinary undergraduate minor program in "Law and Society."

"The minor responds to the diverse needs of our students by bringing them into familiarity with several academic disciplines, while at the same time introducing them to the structure and dynamics of the legal system," according to UM-Dearborn sociology Prof. Lawrence Radine, who chaired the committee that developed the new program.

"'Law and society' is intended to look at law in historical, political, philosophical and social contexts," Radine said. "Students will be encouraged to see law as a dynamic institution shaped by historical forces and social values."

Students who select the minor will be required to take 15 credit hours of upper-division courses in related fields, including a core course on law and society. Other courses will come from a variety of disciplines, including philosophy, history, political science, economics, environmental studies, accounting and communications.

"All of these courses are currently being taught as part of our regular offerings," Radine said, so the program can be launched with no new resources. In the long run, if the program attracts a large number of students, faculty members may want to develop law-related courses in other disciplines, he said.

Radine expects that students and potential students will take a great interest in the minor, based on his discussions with current and former students and with staff members in undergraduate admissions. He says that while students aspiring to legal careers would be especially interested in the minor, it is not only for potential lawyers.

"The primary focus of the program is understanding the legal world," Radine said. "It is an expression of the idea that undergraduates should be able to study the legal system in a systematic and sustained way, just as they can now study the economy, government, the health care system, the education system and so on."

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