:: Spotlight: James Harrington

Posted: April 2009

Photo of Harrington with Students
Prof. Harrington (back row, third from left) with
students in his spring 2009 class.

UEX Instructor Brings Legal Career to Classroom

James C. Harrington, M.A. (Philosophy) and J.D., teaches American Studies and Government courses in the evenings for University Extension (UEX). As a civil rights lawyer who has been practicing in Texas for more than thirty-five years, Professor Harrington brings a wealth of legal experiences and expertise to the classroom. Professor Harrington regularly teaches AMS 370: History-Making Legal Cases and American Popular Culture for UEX. This course gives students an opportunity to learn how famous legal cases have affected our society and culture.

In the interview below, Professor Harrington discusses his experiences teaching this course for UEX.

Why do you think this course is valuable?

Hopefully, the course helps students become better and more reflective citizens because it explores famous controversial court rulings in American history and current times, looks at the social and cultural settings in which they arose, and examines how these cases have relevancy in contemporary American society. Some of the topics include: slavery, racial segregation, civil liberties and national security, the labor movement, free speech, school prayer, abortion, civil rights, the women’s movement, and privacy rights.

What do you like most about your UEX students?

The fact that they are there because they really want to be and are dedicated to their education. They also bring day-to-day experience to the class from their jobs.

What is your favorite lesson or activity to share with your UEX students?

Probably the most effective activity in this class are the trials that the students put on, replicating whatever trials we are studying. The students are divided into two trial teams and a jury for each case. This helps them study the trial more effectively and become more engaged, acting as attorneys. It is a very effective technique that the students really like and enjoy.

What do you think particularly sticks with your students after taking your course?

The ability to think more critically, cogently, and substantively about civil rights and constitutional issues that arise in contemporary life.

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