A Justice Site
CSUDH - Habermas - UWP - Archives
California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: April 13, 2004
Latest Update: April 13, 2004
Site Copyright: Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata and Individual Authors, April 2004.
"Fair use" encouraged.
This course has evolved from the original law school disputation exercise, into a similar exercise of disputation with local professionals, but based on local issue of governance, rather than on a hypothetical law case. Students are asked to discuss in class on the basis of lectures (n the Internet) and textual materials, local substantive issues that matter greatly in our lives at present. Examples are assisted living care for elders, both in the home and in institutional settings, what used to be union issues of low or inadequate living wages contrasted to low prices for the consumer, health care, mental health care, child care, violence on our streets and in our communities, incarceration and its effects on the community, and so on.
Students will prepare a brief, following the legal format, in which the precedents and concepts they have studied are conveniently summarized and cited for local community professionals. This brief must include specific issues and questions selected by the students, with adequate referencing to the various theoretical positions that could be taken. We then invite the professionals to join us in a public forum for the discussion of the issues. Summaries of the issues and arguments are provided to the students and community members who join us, so that they can follow the discussion with relative ease.
Unlike debate, students are not permitted to give a speech on the issue. Instead, the invited professionals join them in dialog in the full expectation that issues that linger in the real world, given the arguments of the brief, can be clarified and considered in depth by the discourse. The forum for this exhibition takes place in the Student Center as the close of the semester approaches, with invitations to the campus and the local community.
The development of skills to participate in such forums has been recognized as essential from sociologists like Habermas on down. This is critical thinking at its best on issues that matter to us now. In addition the model is built on the law school moot court, and offers an ideal undergraduate introduction to the skillsof legal argument.
It is assumed that all students who participate in this forum will be held to a professional level of substantive discussion. Participation guarantees an A. Should a student not be able to participate, alternative methods of authenticating learning are available.