Interdisciplinary Education at University of Chicago Law School

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011



Potential students visiting the Law programme at University of Chicago see this text. It explains what is meant by, and the benefits of, Interdisciplinary Education:

Chicagos devotion to interdisciplinary inquiry is as old as the school itself. It grows out of our conviction that the law does not exist in a vacuum; we can understand the law and legal methods only if we understand both how the law affects the behavior of the society it governs and how the law reflects the values of that society. For this reason, students do not study law as an autonomous discipline. Faculty draw students attention to insights from the social sciences, the humanities, and the natural sciences beginning on the first day of class. Faculty members include historians, economists, philosphers, and political scientists, and each year several Law School classes are cross-listed with other departments of the University. While Law and Economics was the first interdisciplinary field for which the Law School became famous, our curriculum demonstrates that students and faculty forge ahead in many other disciplines as well.

See our list of Interdisciplinary Academic Programs to get a better feel for some of the different areas of inquiry in which we engage.

via Interdisciplinary Education | University of Chicago Law School.

The list of interdisciplinary law programmes is finite: International and Comparative Law, Law and Economics, Law and Philosophy, and a Legal History Programme. They don’t seem to allow students to explore outside these pre-determined areas, but for Law and Philosophy, after a required first year course there is “a wide range of electives available to law students with philosophical interests”

The International and Comparative Law programme appears to be based on elective choice: “The Law School offers an expansive and well-rounded curriculum with over 170 elective courses, including more than 30 electives in international and comparative law” (link).

This approach is an interesting one: allow students to select their electives and depending on the number of credits from a specific area, name the degree accordingly? This is similar to the Open University’s approach in the UK: students can study for an “Open” degree, or named degrees. Students wanting a named degree need to ensure a certain amount of credit comes from a prescribed list of courses, some compulsory (as with the “Elements of Law” course above) and others optional.

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