New minor will look at law, justice relationship

By Brie Winnega, Daily Staff Reporter
Published April 3, 2014

Combining interests in law and social justice just got easier.

Beginning in Fall 2014, the University’s Department of Sociology will offer students the opportunity to pursue a minor in Law, Justice and Social Change.

The new minor will give students a way to explore the relationship between law and society, as well as the ways in which society is affected by the interactions between institutions and social groups. Requirements for the minor include a prerequisite introductory course and the completion of 15 credits from a combination of other available courses.

However, those barred from pursuing the Law, Justice and Social Change minor include sociology majors with a subplan in Law, Justice and Social Change, Crime and Justice minors and Community Action and Social Change minors.

Sociology Prof. Sandra Levitsky, who teaches two of the minor’s main courses, said she was surprised when multiple students expressed an interest in both her Law and Society and Social Movements courses.

“When I first started teaching these courses I expected to see very different types of students in each class,” Levitsky wrote in an e-mail. “But in fact the opposite happened: the same students kept showing up to both classes.”

To answer for students’ growing interests in both types of classes, department faculty and administrators agreed to offer a new minor that would explore concepts of legal and social significance.

“Anyone with an interest in law, policy, criminal justice, social and economic justice, social movements, human rights, inequality, and social change will find an intellectual home in this minor,” Levitsky wrote.

She added that she hopes the minor will promote a community of students and professors interested in these fields as well as a form of certification for students that will allow them to demonstrate their dedication to legal and social issues.

Nicole Rutherford, undergraduate program coordinator for the sociology department, said the new minor will teach students a variety of skills that can be applied to a future career.

“I think, just as any student in any liberal arts degree program, they’re going to walk away with kind of a more global perspective on issues of social change,” Rutherford said. “They’re going to walk away with writing skills like you do in any liberal arts class as well as some strong analytical and critical thinking skills.”

Although sociology majors are welcome to pursue the Law, Justice and Social Change minor, Rutherford said the same classes that are offered through the minor are already available to them. She noted the minor could potentially compliment all types of majors, especially those related to the social sciences.

“I think all majors, there’s something in this for them if they’re interested in complimenting it with a focus in law and social change,” Rutherford said.

Levitsky also said she hopes the minor will bring attention to the prowess of the University’s Department of Sociology.

“This is one of the top-ranked sociology departments in the country,” Levitsky wrote. “We have some of the best teachers in the College. Once students figure that out, once they get a taste of these classes, they’re not just going to want to minor in Law Justice and Social Change, they’re going to want to major in sociology.”