Legal Studies

Recognizing that law, legal processes, and concepts are integrally involved in political, social, environmental, economic, scientific, and other issues, Hampshire College has given legal studies a significant place in its curriculum.

Some students choose to focus primarily on law, while others include legal perspectives as a secondary focus, such as how the law interacts with their interests in philosophy, international relations, environmental studies, or community organizing.

Student Project Titles

  • Legality of Domestic Spying: Explorations of the NSA Eavesdropping Program
  • Imagining and Policing the Pregnant Citizen: Ideology, Jurisprudence, and the State
  • American Taxes
  • Changing Concepts of Juvenile Delinquency
  • The Road to Hell: Reform and Control in California's Prisons
  • Transgender Legal Theory
  • Wartime and the Governmental Suppression of Information and Political Freedom: The USA Patriot Act's Material Support Provisions as the New McCarthyism

Sample First-Year Course

Law, Identity, and Bioscience

This course introduces students to the ways in which law shapes our lives and how society and culture effect how we interpret and experience law. In addition to reading materials from sociolegal studies, science and technology studies, anthropology, and women and gender studies, we will look at primary case materials that involve issues of law, identity, and bioscience. We will use case narratives as a point of entry to ask how scientific evidence, especially in the realm of genetics, has come to differently intervene in questions of law and identity. What can such analyses of law and its broader cultural contexts reveal about the legal encoding of norms of bioscience, processes of race and gender, and understandings of heredity and kin relations? Topics include the legal rights of animals; race, genetic identities, social justice; and sexuality, kinship, and property.

Sample Courses at Hampshire

  • African Americans and the Politics of Reparations
  • Critical Bioethics
  • Citizenship, Freedom and the Good Life
  • Border Matters: Mexico & the U.S.
  • Constitutionally Queer: Law and Politics of Sexuality
  • Critical Race Theory
  • Environmental Policy in a Time of Globalization
  • Ethnography of Law, Science and Medicine
  • Feminist Legal Theory
  • Freedom of Expression
  • Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity
  • Human Rights Law and Culture
  • International Human Rights Tribunals
  • Law, Identity & Bioscience
  • Law and Society
  • Patriot(ic) Acts: Law and the Production of Difference
  • People Out of Place: Bodies, Borders and Documents
  • Politics of the Abortion Rights Movement
  • Science in the Courtroom
  • War on Terror: Exception or Business as Usual?
  • Women, Law and Sex in the Mediterranean, 1300-1800

Through the Consortium

  • Law & Conscience (UMass)
  • Punishment, Politics & Culture (AC)
  • Race, Place & the Law (AC)
  • Social Organization of Law (AC)

Facilities and Resources

Collective Power for Reproductive Justice
Founded in 1981, the Collective Power for Reproductive Justice (formerly Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program) was created to help organize women on issues of reproductive freedom and greater access to health and economic resources. Its companion program, Population and Development, was created in 1986 to respond to the increasing globalization of women's issues. The program offers courses, invites visiting scholars and activists, and organizes national conferences on reproductive rights issues on campus.

In addition, Collective Power for Reproductive Justice offers the Reproductive Rights Activist Service Corps (RRASC) to allow students to work as activists on reproductive rights issues across the globe at organizations including: The Center for Reproductive Rights, Choice USA, Justice NOW, National Advocates for Pregnant Women, Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health, Pro-Choice Public Education Project, Third Wave Foundation, and the Youth Gender Project.