Public Law examines how the legal system, of which the constitutional order and judiciary are integral parts, governs the relationship both among constituent units of the state and between citizens and the state. It also examines the obligations that states have to one another via international law. Courses in our curriculum address the normative foundations of principles of justice and human rights; the role of constitutions and courts in safeguarding the rule of law, protecting civil liberties, and curbing state power; the constraints to state sovereignty posed by international law and international courts; and the implications of the legal order for democratic and legitimate policy-making.
Minor Program in Public Law
The Minor Program in Public Law complements the Specialist, Major and Minor programs in Political Science. The primary learning goals of the program are to introduce students to the study of public law and to understand how to investigate how the legal system, of which the constitutional order and judiciary are integral parts, governs the relationship both among constituent units of the state and between citizens and the state. Similar to the Specialist and Major Programs in Political Science, the Minor Program in Public Law develops students’ communication, reading and writing skills in the core B-level courses: POLB30H3, POLB56H3 and POLB57H3. Additionally, the core C-level course, POLC32H3, provides students with the opportunity to enhance students’ knowledge of the plural epistemologies and methodologies of political science/social science – including methods of legal reasoning and justification—and awareness of their limitations. Students also further develop their interdisciplinary thinking, social activism, and professional training skills depending in the various C-level courses they select to complete the public law elective requirement for the program.
The Minor Program in Public Law introduces students to theories and applications of law with a particular focus on the mobilization of diverse minority groups. At the introductory level, courses highlight the way that the struggle for racial equality and justice have had a formative impact on both law and politics. The Department of Political Science offers courses on social movements and human rights, which foreground the experience of domination and the role of ethnicity, race, gender and social class in resistance and collective empowerment, in Canada and beyond. Advanced applications courses also highlight the limits of legal change and legal reasoning. These courses explain the social forces of prejudice, stereotyping, discrimination and racism. The curriculum is designed to expose students to a wide range of issues related to equity, including labour-union organizing, immigrant incorporation; racial bias in policing; indigenous land rights; sexual diversity; gender equality; and community building and mobilization.
Competencies & Skills Learned in the Public Law Program
- An understanding of the law in its broader context
- The ability to analyze issues from a variety of perspectives
- Critically analyze problems, think creatively and make decisions while considering different sides of an argument
- Understand social issues and their relation to contemporary legal question