HC444H/431H: Calderwood Seminar in Public Writing: The Justice System Today

Professor: Michael Moffitt

4.00 credits

  • CRN 21104: Fridays, 0900-1150 @ LIL 255

Graduation Requirement:  This 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.

The justice system affects the lives of everyone in this country, but few have developed the ability to describe it accurately or persuasively to those without specialized training. Virtually every aspect of your liberal arts education has a role to play in predicting, understanding, and shaping the modern justice system. 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. During this seminar, among other things, you will consider two cases currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, and you will have an opportunity to interview a professional working in the justice system. As a result, you will find and refine your public voice— helping those without specialized training to appreciate the importance of some of the most pressing contemporary issues of law and policy.