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April 10, 2013

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Paul Horwitz

A couple of ideas: 1) Why not include all of these issues, and others, in a required first-year course on Catholic Legal/Social Thought? 2) The second point is more of an add-on, but if you're going to expand your first-year curriculum, I also encourage you to have a mandatory first-year course examining standard tools and concepts of economics and public policy, and a closely related one on legislation and regulation.

Miriam Cherry

Jeff, thanks for posting this - I think we are on the same page today, since I am in the middle of writing a piece on teaching employment discrimination law - cultural competence concepts are so important in this context - I will send you a longer message (off blog). Enjoying your posts here so far, BTW! Miriam

Jeff Redding

Paul, as to your second point, up until about 10 years ago, SLU Law required Tax Law as a required 1L course in order to expose students to all of the issues you identified, so maybe Back to the Future will be possible. As to your first point, I think the Jesuit Mission would certainly be part of the classroom discussion, but I would be somewhat (though not irreversibly) reluctant to attach a particular denomination's name to this kind of course. Certainly, part of the classroom discussion has to revolve around religious pluralism & the law (how could it not?). I'd be appreciative of others suggestions as to a potential 1L course title. "Law, Culture, & Justice"???

LASF

"One thought as to how to do so is to introduce changes into the curriculum, concertedly oriented towards exposing students to the legal and social issues faced, both historically and contemporarily, by racial minorities, immigrants, women, Native Americans, queer folk, the disabled, and others."

Even excluding "Others" you've already identified 80% or so of the American population, so perhaps the question is how it will be relevant to the students to take legal issues and problems (contracts, torts) that are broadly applicable across various subgroups and atomize them into "women's issue," "queer issues," etc? Does the Rule against Perpetuities apply different to a gay Latino woman than to a disable immigrant Asian-American? Teach basic legal knowledge and reasoning skills last year, save the politicized courses for upper-level electives.

Jeff Redding

LASF, thanks for your perspective; I think it demonstrates the challenges we have in coming to understand the politics of our existing legal system. I like your question about the Rule of Perpetuities; it sounds like a potential exam question/paper topic. I don't have a ready answer for it, but it's certainly no problem that the reach of a course extends to "80%" of the population; the challenge though is having students think about how everyone is in a majority (because of the continuing seductiveness of notions like 'common-sense') and also everyone is in a minority, simultaneously. This is all to say that I think this kind of 1L course should be the most challenging and most rigorous course, for both the professor and the students. I love your challenges and hope we could engage with them in an ongoing discussion, like a course!

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