The College of Law normally offers seminars each semester.

Seminars for Spring 2013 include:

Law 900.2 - BIOETHICS - Professor Morse Tan

Bioethics addresses the critically important issues at the intersection of law, medicine, biology and ethics. In this time of proliferation of biomedical knowledge and biotechnologies, and in a society that regulates the healthcare area more than any other, it is vital to learn about these crucial matters. Particular issues covered may include the following: allocation of healthcare resources, euthanasia/physician assisted suicide, ethical theories, human genetics (such as genetic non-discrimination), human research ethics, cloning, stem cell research, abortion, and models of the physician-patient relationship, for examples. The seminar will have ample opportunity for discussion, student presentations and student research in that each student will write a substantial paper and present their research to the class.

Law 900.1 - DISABILITY LAW – Professor Leona Green

The Disability Law seminar will explore the rights provided employees who are covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In addition, the students will explore various municipal state and federal laws that cover employees who would otherwise experience discrimination due to their disabilities. This is a writing seminar, and students will be responsible for writing a paper that satisfies the upper-division writing requirement.

Law 900.4 - GENDER & THE CONSTITUTION – Professor Elvia Arriola

This seminar will examine the historical and contemporary approaches to gender issues in constitutional interpretation, in common law and civil law systems. The term “gender” as a category of analysis focuses on how law and society define the expectations, privileges, limits and opportunities for men and women based on a set of values about femininity, masculinity and about presumed and real differences between the biological sexes. Among the traditional topics to be covered would be issues of discrimination on the basis of gender in the workplace, regulation of sexuality, voting, legislative representation, abortion rights and restrictions, gender and the family, etc. Readings will include analysis of these issues as experienced in other countries. This is a scholarship seminar. Constitutional Law I and II are helpful but not required to complete the primary course expectation for producing an independently researched topic paper, approved by the instructor, which meets the graduation writing requirement for the College of Law.

Law 900.3 - TAX POLICY – Professor Dan Schneider

This seminar focuses on U.S. federal tax policy, exploring legal, political, economic and social aspects of various policies. While a number of topics may be examined, issues explored in the past have included the equity of the progressive tax and the proper units for imposition of tax. The course is intended to encourage discussion and understanding of questions about tax policies and to provide a thorough platform for researching federal tax matters and for writing about federal income tax.


In addition to the four seminars above, the following seminars from the NIU Department of Political Science are cross-listed in the College of Law. This means you can sign up for them as a law school course in MyNiu and they will automatically count toward the 90 hours required for a law degree (subject to the limit that students may count only 6 hours of non-law courses toward the J.D. degree). Moreover, cross-listed seminars will satisfy the College of Law upper-division writing requirement only with the approval of the seminar instructor and the Associate Dean of the College of Law.

Law 900.5 - U.S. Regulatory Politics in Comparative Perspective – Professor Brendon Swedlow, NIU Dep’t of Political Science 

Seminar Overview: This seminar will immerse you in scientific and political controversies at the interface of science, public policy, and law as a way of introducing you to how our government, regulatory agencies, and non-governmental organizations use science to assess and regulate environmental, health, and safety risks. The distinctiveness of U.S. approaches to risk assessment and regulation will be highlighted by comparison to the approaches of selected other countries. We will examine the extent to which differences in institutions, political culture, and other factors explain differences in risk assessment and regulation both within the U.S. and across countries. You will learn how to analyze disputes among scientists and other experts. You will learn some of what is known about how risks are assessed and regulated in the U.S. and other countries. And you will have the opportunity to research further how environmental, health, and safety risks are assessed and regulated in the U.S. and Illinois.

Seminar Requirements and Participation: As you know, in graduate seminars learning is advanced by critically reflecting upon our readings and sharing your thoughts with seminar colleagues. In this seminar, we will do this in two ways. First, you will be expected to read assigned materials and to write short papers (usually 2-3 pages) discussing the readings (for 25% of seminar grade). Second, you will be asked to lead discussion of some aspect of the weeks readings, and when you’re not leading discussion to participate in it (for 20% of seminar grade). You will also be asked to present research results from your research paper to the seminar. Almost half (45%) of your seminar grade will be determined by actively participating in the seminar in these ways. As you also know, most graduate seminars also seek to advance learning by requiring you to research and write longer analytical papers. In this seminar, you will be expected to research and write a paper of 25 or more pages that seeks to contribute to scholarly understandings of a topic related to this seminar. If you are interested, we can discuss how your research paper may be designed to contribute to a research project on risk assessment and regulation that I am undertaking with students. This project will be described in seminar. Research papers will be written in two installments: a five page down-payment allowing me to give you direction (worth 15% of your seminar grade) and a 25 page or more final paper incorporating that direction and expanding upon it (worth 40% of your seminar grade). Consequently, more than half (55%) of your seminar grade will be determined by your research paper.

Law 900.6 – Constitutional Politics – Professor Mitch Pickerill, NIU Dep’t of Political Science

This seminar focuses on the nature of constitutionalism and the role of judicial review in a democratic political system. The course will focus on the American case, but will also address and raise questions that have implications for constitutionalism beyond the United States. The course assumes a basic knowledge of constitutional law and judicial review in the United States, but it is not simply an advanced course in constitutional law. Rather, we will examine what makes a constitution a Constitution as well as its function in a political and legal system. We will consider how constitutions are interpreted over time, how constitutional change occurs and what conditions make it more likely a constitution will produce political stability. Accordingly, the various political and intellectual controversies over the role of judicial review in a democracy must be addressed. Much of the course will draw from social science and law and society scholarship and empirical research on the relationship between judicial behavior, the other branches of government and broader political and social forces. But this literature also raises important normative questions that will be discussed and debated in the class. There will be a seminar paper (article length) on constitutionalism and or theories of judicial review required and due by of the end of the semester.