Law

Law courses explore the history and interpretation of legal systems and codes, including criminal and civil law, environmental law, international law, and constitutional law.

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    Frequently Asked Questions about Law

  • The law is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as "a rule made by a government that states how people may and may not behave in society and in business, and that often orders particular punishments if they do not obey." The creation and enforcement of laws is in many ways the foundational role of government, and it can be considered a defining feature of society as a whole. After all, what is more universally important than our collective definition of what is right and wrong?

    We may share an intuitive sense of morality in the abstract - e.g., physically harming others or stealing from them is wrong and should be punished. However, differences over the details of exactly what is defined as a crime and what its consequences are have always been the subject of great debate, and having the power to determine the law is in a sense the objective of all politics.

    Beyond the technical definition of the law, injustice in how law enforcement can sometimes work in practice - including inequalities in who is punished, how severely they are sentenced, and what legal services they have access to - have also animated social and political movements throughout history, such as the Civil Rights movement and Black Lives Matter.

    Understanding both the "de jure" and "de facto" aspects of the law is thus essential to understanding how society works. It's knowledge you need for being an engaged citizen in a democracy - and, if you choose to pursue a career in law, for your job.