Learning Community: "Law and Society"

GNED1202-015 - Texts and Ideas - TR 10:00-11:20 AM

GNED1303-009 - Conflict & the Social Context - TR11:30AM-12:50PM

 Capacity: 40 students

 Instructors: Dr. Heather Nelson and Dr. Glen Ryland

 Theme: Law in the Social Context


This Learning Community consists of two courses (6 credits): GNED 1202 - Texts & Ideas and GNED1303 - Conflict & the Social Context that share a common theme on the idea, place, and importance of law in society. It is taught by two instructors who will take an interdisciplinary approach to explore the law and legal systems as a social phenomenon expressed through philosophical, sociological, historical and ethical points of view. As the law often finds expression in courtrooms and through trials, this Learning community will also critically analyse how the law has been applied in famous historical trials, with an emphasis on Canadian trials.

Trials and courtrooms are inherently filled with conflict. Prosecutors and defense attorneys present arguments and evidence to win the innocence or guilt of the accused, be they individuals, groups, corporations, organizations, or state institutions. In cases of serious crimes, such as murder, lives are radically changed forever. In trials dealing with human rights, institutional changes to policy can leave a legacy of change for generations. In trials dealing with corporate responsibility, organizations and businesses have had to adapt to new legal limits and requirements. Trials also can also lead to heated debate about the justification of the accused’s actions (e.g., mercy killing) or actions of the state (e.g., capital punishment). And if the accused is found guilty, questions arise over how and to what extent the guilty should be “punishment” (e.g. "life" sentences, indigenous healing circles).

Note: this course is not intended as a survey or prep-course on law, nor is it an introduction to law in the usual sense. It is a course about law as an idea and its social importance.