Spring 2011 - Science & Law
Wagner, Wendy E
Course ID: 397S Unique # 30055 Credit Hours: 3
3:30 pm - 5:20 pm
This course is restricted to upper division students only.
Science is integral to our modern technological society and is used in myriad ways to formulate and challenge public policy. This seminar will examine issues of science policy and regulation as they arise in biotechnology, environmental, food and drug, toxic torts, and other regulatory fields. The seminar will begin with an introduction to debates over the objectivity of science and the scientific method and ways that the scientific community attempts to provide some oversight over the reliability of research. The seminar will then turn to consider ways that the legal system adds to these internal, science-based controls of research, including regulations that regulate scientific fraud, human subjects research, and tools that can be used by third parites to challenge the reliability of research. The seminar will close with a study of the demand side of the science-law relationship, exploring various ways that the law depends upon science to inform policy and some of the challenges that arise from that dependency. These challenges include identifying and screening reliable science to inform the litigation process, the role of experts in policymaking, and the inevitability that science will sometimes become a weapon in policy debates and may even be manipulated to serve predetermined partisan ends. A major theme of the seminar will be to show how legal rules and doctrines serve to support--or undermine--doing and using science in socially responsible ways.
Related Course Areas
Students will be expected to write a substantial research paper related to one of the themes or topics of the course and must write several short papers on the readings through the course of the semester.
There is no prerequisite for the seminar.