Key Initiative 14:
Legal Studies Major

The Legal Studies Major is an interdisciplinary program dedicated to the study of law and justice in the 21st century. The overarching purpose of the major will be to prepare students for careers in law and public service, an area of great interest, particularly for women. The program features 21 courses drawn from twelve academic disciplines, based upon the American Bar Association’s recommendations on undergraduate education.

Given the vital role that ethical, legal, and social issues play in so many areas of human affairs, the importance and relevance of law and justice to the preparation of students for law school, and for life after college more generally, is obvious. Moreover, this focus aligns with and supports the College’s emphasis upon women’s leadership, civic engagement, and global awareness. Since the major would expose students to a dozen academic disciplines drawn principally from the Humanities and Social Sciences, the thrust of this initiative also is consistent with the College’s identity as a Liberal Arts institution.
Cedar Crest will be one of only seven institutions in the tri-state (Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware) area to offer a major in Legal Studies. Given the evident interest that undergraduates have in Political Science and law at other institutions, including colleges for women, this initiative could possibly lead to a rather dramatic increase in enrollment over time.

Coursework includes study in Diversity and Justice, Globalization and Justice, Law and Order, and Law and Society. A faculty member with legal credentials and experience will teach and mentor students both in and out of the classroom, including Pre-Law advising and mock trial activities.

This program also is consistent with what appears to be a latent area of focus on campus. At present there are a number of academic programs which fall squarely within the rubric of law and justice, including Forensic Science, Criminal Justice, and Forensic Psychology. In a broader sense, Social Work, The Ethical Life, and the major in Biodiversity and Conservation Biology do as well. This foundation also could serve as the basis for promoting a variety of co-curricular activities, including the Public Leadership Education Network and internships within the local legal community.

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