HC 444H/431H: Calderwood Seminars Public Writing: The Justice System Today

Professor: Michael Moffitt

4.00 credits

  • CRN 26813: Friday, 1215-1450 @ REMOTE

Graduation RequirementThis class will fulfill a Social Science Colloquium and a US: Difference, Inequality, Agency (US) area of inquiry requirement.  If the student has already taken a Social Science Colloquium, this class will fulfill both of the following requirements:  an Elective Colloquium and a US area of inquiry.

Calderwood Seminars in Public Writing are advanced-level, writing-intensive courses that engage students in a review of areas of special interest. These seminars emphasize public writing—the ability to translate complex arguments and professional jargon to a broad audience— which is a central feature of a liberal arts education. These seminars will have a collaborative format, with students writing frequently and rewriting their work in response to comments by their professors and input from classmates. You have learned how to write for college, now learn how to write for life.

Courts’ decisions shape most of the political, economic, and social policies at the core of modern life in the United States. Courts often speak in a highly stylized language, leaving others to interpret and communicate the implications of their decisions. No single lens provides a dispositive perspective on the judiciary. Indeed, researchers from virtually every corner of the liberal arts landscape have provided means by which to predict, understand, and shape judges’ behavior. From the hard sciences (“how should complex and technical disputes be adjudicated, given a lay jury?”) to the social sciences (“what aspects of a judge’s background best predict her decisions?” “what allocation of costs create the litigation incentives that best serve society?”) to the humanities (“how can—or should—we constrain the meaning-making processes of those charged with giving effect to legal rules?” “as part of what historical arc should current cases best be understood?” “what ethical foundations constrain or compel those involved in a system of justice?”). Observers of the judiciary often speak in ways that are accessible only to those already familiar with a particular discipline, ignoring broad communities of the affected and potentially interested. This seminar aims to help students find and refine their public voices on the most important contemporary issues of law and policy.