Changes proposed by:
Rena Lauer (School of History, Philosophy & Religion, Assistant Professor) (lauerr)
Legal Perspectives Certificate
These questions are designed to produce the equivalent of a 2-page summary of the proposed program that can be used to create an Early Alert document that will be submitted to the Statewide Provosts Council.
The undergraduate Certificate in Legal Perspectives offers OSU students a multi-disciplinary integrated program to study law, culture, and the ways in which the two intersect. This certificate program aims to give students a foundation in law as a fundamental organizing principle of contemporary as well as past societies, local to an American context as well as global. Upon completion of this certificate, students will be familiar with the major themes, theories, and skills related to the study of law, and will also understand how law functions as a social, economic, and cultural category, and has done so throughout legal systems across time and space.
The certificate fulfills a pre-professional demand from students who are pre-law and those planning to work in government or the non-profit fields. It also serves a population of students from across the university who seek to understand the interdisciplinary nature of law, a fundamental component of societies, including those students dedicated to social justice and community activism.
As an intentionally interdisciplinary program, the certificate gathers faculty expertise and extant courses from across many schools in CLA and beyond to offer a broad view of American and international law, legal theory, legal history, and law as a social science. The certificate relies on key courses in legal history, philosophy of law, law and religion, politics of law, and sociology of crime for its core content foundations. Courses from across the university, including in communications, management, business, ethnic studies, economics, and fisheries and wildlife, can be taken as the remaining electives.
All students will take a 2-credit colloquium entitled "Legal Perspectives" that emphasizes professional and supra-professional understandings and skills and ethics related to law, analytical thinking and speaking, and core scholarly approaches to law in social context.
Students will take 10 credits of core classes, which include courses in philosophy of law (PHL 365), history of law (HST 431, in process), religion and law (REL 484), theories of law (PS 462), and law and society (SOC 448). These classes have been chosen because they teach fundamental approaches to law as a product and producer of culture, and focus on a methodology of analysis of law in context.
Students will then take at least 15 credits of other courses that develop legal thinking and writing skills and teach content related to focused areas of legal knowledge in context. The skills-oriented options include a variety of communications and philosophy courses (including Argument and Critical Discourse, COMM 114, and Deductive Logic, PHL 321). The latter includes courses that address specific fields of law (such as Environmental Law, AEC 432, and Business Law, BA 230), and those that focus on case studies or specific approaches to law in context (for example, First Amendment law in REL/PHL 345; gender and the law in PS 325). Students may take any courses in this list to complete their 17 credits. A course listed in the Core requirements may be taken for elective credit if not used for a core requirement.
Students completing this certificate will be able to:
1. Describe key theories, historical movements, and structures of law in American and non-American contexts.
2. Analyze the role of law as an agent of, and reflection of, culture and society.
3. Understand and utilize legal concepts and structures, and legal modes of analysis, in their professional lives, whether in a legal field or elsewhere.
Students completing this certificate will have acquired the following skills:
1. Ability to articulate key theories, historical movements, and structures of law in American and non-American contexts.
2. Critical analysis skills related to the contextualization of law as an agent and reflection of broader culture and society.
3. Persuasive writing and speaking skills; critical reading, analysis, and research skills; and careful contextualization skills consonant with those needed for legal and law-adjacent careers.
1. Law or law-adjacent fields;
2. US or international non-profits or NGOs;
3. Civil service or government work;
4. A wide variety of jobs in which critical analysis, persuasive communication in writing and speech, and historical and social contextualization are valued and needed.
This certificate program will be delivered on-campus in Corvallis. Nevertheless, students may take some classes through E-campus when appropriate.
4. What is the anticipated enrollment (Fall Term headcount) at the launch of the program and the planned goals for 5 and 10 years out?
Evidence from University of Oregon's recently established pre-law minor suggests enormous demand for this type of program from Oregon university students. They expected 30-40 students in their first year; 250 signed up. Because we do not have a law school, we do not anticipate those immediate spiking numbers, but we do believe there is significant demand.
There are no similar programs within OSU. The University of Oregon has a pre-law minor (since 2018) through its law school, which aims to bring together law and wider humanities topics. Portland state has a Law and Legal Studies Minor. EOU and WOU also have pre-law minors, which focus on US legal systems. We believe there is sufficient demand for multiple programs in Oregon. Indeed, the success of these programs suggests that Oregon State has an unfulfilled demand among students. We believe that our unique interdisciplinary approach, in the form of a certificate instead of a minor housed in a single department, and a program that emphasizes law in societal context instead of simple pre-law training, makes our program distinctive, and allows for particular cross-disciplinary germination for students and faculty alike.
This certificate meets OSU’s explicit institutional goal of “Promoting economic growth and social progress" by training the next generation of civil servants, legal professionals, and communal activists. Our emphasis on critical reading and analysis also meets OSU's mission of "Producing skilled graduates who are critical thinkers." The certificates teaches transferable skills useful for all professions in which writing, communicating, and analyzing data are prized. More broadly, analytically skilled citizens make better contributions to civil society.
Statewide and institutional goals for our students always include setting them on track for successful and meaningful careers. This certificate program helps students develop transferable skills relevant to many fields, but also introduces them in a substantive way to the world of legal and legal-adjacent professions. Moreover, by running this program at the undergraduate level, we are able to introduce students without familial or communal familiarity with legal or legal-adjacent professions--including first-gen college students and students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds--to the possibility of these careers.
Moreover, by providing students with an opportunity to see many angles of law—how law shapes and is shaped by the society in which it exists; the methods and structures of law in our own modern society; legal analytical tools—students become better informed about their own civil society and the broader world. They become aware of and more engaged with their own local, state, and federal governments. They become better analyzers of information and media, and thus become better citizens, contributing to meaningful and thoughtful civic discussions.
Finally, a great deal of positive contemporary social change happens through legal channels or through other economic or social pathways which intersect with law. This certificate program will prepare students to understand these linkages between law and society, law and the economy, and law and the environment, by helping them understand each of these connections in context.
This certificate's goals of teaching close reading and critical analysis explicitly serve OSU's mission of "Producing skilled graduates who are critical thinkers." It also meets OSU’s institutional goal of “Promoting economic growth and social progress,” by providing students with learning that may help them choose successful career paths, and also by producing informed and analytically skilled members of society who can help Oregon, the US, and the world progress in healthy and productive ways.
Create, Change or Terminate a College or Academic Unit
Objectives, Functions, and Activities
The proposed course designator should have an identified purpose within the curricular structure of Oregon State University.
Responsibility for the integrity and oversight of the proposed course designator should be clearly identified.
Who will benefit from the new course designator, and what changes will result from its implementation.