Washington Center

Comparative Law and Society

Day and Time: 
Tuesdays, 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Quarter Dates: 
September 19 - November 28, 2023
Semester Dates: 
August 23 - November 28, 2023
Core Seminar

Remember back throughout your life to disputes among people, possibly about fairness or justice.  You probably have heard people say, “I’ve got a right.”  “It’s a free country and it’s my right.”  Or, “You don’t have the right to do x.”  The concept of civil rights plays a prominent role in the way we define ourselves and our society in the U.S.  But how much of the discourse we hear and speak about rights actually is true?  Do we really “have a right to do x?”  Does having a shared right help to create group identity?  How might claiming rights influence a social movement? 

In this course you will be invited to examine the role of rights in law, politics, and society, and the ability/inability of legal rights to shape, to change, to define. . . our reality.  We will consider in an in-depth manner the nature of rights, the mobilization of rights, and the institutional nature of rights.  We will draw on comparative examples from other countries in order to better understand whether ‘rights’ are an American idea or if they also have an important part to play in other countries.  You will also be asked to consider how important culture and national institutions are in shaping our understanding of rights.  You will be invited to consider what the advantages and disadvantages of the American approach to rights are and what makes a legal right most effective in different situations and for different people and groups.


About the Professor: Jackie Gehring is an associate teaching professor of Politics and Legal Studies at UCSC. Jackie arrived at UCSC in the Winter of 2017 after serving as Department Chair and Associate Professor of Political Science at Allegheny College. She earned her Ph.D. in Jurisprudence and Social Policy from the University of California, Berkeley, and has also been a visiting scholar at the Center for the Study of Law and Society at UC Berkeley, as well as at universities in Europe.

Requirement for ALL semester students:

The first four weeks of this semester (August 23 to September 13) will be spent in a special topics module taught by Professor Marc Sandalow on Wednesdays from 6:30-9:30p.m. This module will account for 15% of the core seminar final course grade. Please contact Professor Sandalow (marc.sandalow@ucdc.edu) with questions.

Your selected seminar will begin the week of September 18 and your seminar instructor will officially be your instructor of record for the term, responsible for computing and submitting final course grades at the end of the term.

**NO additional registration required.


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