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All VLS Courses

Course Name

Conflict of Laws

International LawJurisprudence

Considers the principles used to resolve legal problems when the conflicting laws of two or more jurisdictions might reasonably be applied. The course initially focuses upon the different rules and methodologies used to determine the appropriate choice of law. Constitutional limits on the use of such rules and methodologies are explored in some detail.

Culture and the Environment


Interdisciplinary seminar that combines the study of cultural ecology with legal anthropology. The course examines the historical roots of the current environmental crisis in the development of agriculture, urbanization and industrialization. The course focuses on the political and cultural challenges of climate change in other historical periods and the challenges that global warming presents in different parts of the world.

Federal Courts


An analysis of the sources of and limitations on the federal judicial power.  Particular emphasis is placed upon the relationship between the state and federal judicial system. 

Human Nature and the Law Seminar


Taking as its starting point the idea that humans are biological creatures, and that human nature and its manifestation in the law can be profitably approached from a biologically informed viewpoint, this course examines concepts of culture and other influences on social interaction that help to shape legal systems.

Judicial Opinion Writing


Explores the opinion-writing process from several theoretical and practical perspectives.  Students draft law clerk memos and judicial opinions based on the briefs and records in actual state and federal cases.

Jurisprudence Tutorial


Modeled after the Oxford-Cambridge tutorial system in which the student and faculty member follow a course of reading and meet to discuss, this tutorial provides an opportunity for students to master a field of law and/or philosophy, or explore a particular author's writings in depth, or resolve a particular problem. The preferred subjects are philosophy, jurisprudence, social and political philosophy, ethics, land use, population, environmental, and tort law.

Moral Philosophy for Professionals Seminar


Examines ethical issues in the professions with an emphasis on law, including professional character and relationships, gender and moral reasoning, confidentiality, deception, paternalism, and allocation of limited resources. Readings in professional ethics and ethical theory are applied to concrete situations facing professionals, including lawyers, environmental professionals, health providers, journalists, social workers, and political agencies.



Studies the legal and equitable methods available to redress an infringement of legal rights, such as those rights provided by the laws of contracts, torts, equity, constitutional law, and civil procedure. 

The Law and Popular Culture


Explores images of law and lawyers in popular films as well as the influences of popular film upon legal practice.  Topics studied through the films include Legal Actors and Institutions --such as Law Students, Lawyers and Legal Ethics, Clients, Witnesses, Judges and Juries-- and legal subject matter areas, such as Tort Law, Criminal Law, Constitutional Law, Family Law, Business Law, International Law and Military Law. 

Women and the Law


Explores the interaction of the law and gender via an in-depth study of legal responses to domestic violence. Includes discussions of family law, the civil and criminal systems, and the international human rights dimensions of this issue.