Law 690 - Race, Social Psychology, and the Legal Process

David Simson

David Simson

Bernard A. and Lenore S. Greenberg Law Review Fellow
B.S.B.A. University of Denver, 2010
J.D. UCLA, 2013
Course Description:

Issues of race and racial inequality have shaped American history and continue to be at the forefront of debates about justice, fairness, and equality. The legal system has developed particular approaches to resolving issues involving race. These approaches are built on assumptions about how people do, and should, think about race, how race shapes human interaction, and correspondingly how the law should regulate such issues (both substantively and procedurally). This course investigates the claim that the law's account of whether,how, and why race matters in a given context is often incomplete, and may not always be the most compelling account. Drawing largely on research in the fields of Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Social Psychology, this course analyzes a subset of legal topics in which race can play a prominent role (issues may include, for example, criminal and civil procedure, employment discrimination, and affirmative action). It applies findings from both fields to analyze and critique the assumptions underlying existing legal doctrine, and to think about alternative approaches and their potential implications. The course will also evaluate possible interdisciplinary synergies between law and social psychology, as well as potential points of conflict.

Course Learning Outcomes:

Students will learn how to:
•    think critically about the nature of race as a social concept, as well as a legal concept
•    analyze the role of law in creating, shaping, policing, and resolving social conflicts involving race
•    uncover legal assumptions about human psychology related to race
•    read and analyze research findings from Social Psychology, and evaluate their relevance to the law
•    identify and analyze points of convergence and divergence between social scientific findings and legal doctrine
•    develop creative and novel approaches to resolving issues of race through law, and evaluate their potential implications
•    integrate findings from multiple scholarly fields to produce an in-depth, interdisciplinary analysis of a chosen legal issue
•    present individual research findings clearly and concisely, and implement feedback to improve final work product.