Health Law and BioEthics

Neuroscience and the Law

Seminar - 2 hours. This course explores current topics at the crossroads of neuroscience and the law.  The course introduces foundational bioethics and some basics of cognitive science.  It examines the relationship between social science and the law, notably how empirical research findings are used to design legal institutions.  It considers the role of scientific models of human cognition and motivation in the context of legal policy creation or sentencing decisions.

Trauma-Informed Lawyering

Seminar - 2 hours. Recent developments in neuroscience and psychology support the contention that we live in a world impacted by trauma. But lawyers are not often trained in recognizing how trauma affects our work. Trauma-informed lawyering is an approach to the practice of law that equips students with the knowledge and skills to navigate these difficult environments.


Discussion - 3 hours.  This course examines the ethical, legal, and social issues that arise from research on and use of biomedical technologies.  The course introduces and critically evaluates the dominant principlist approach to Western bioethics. It uses interdisciplinary methods, including critical theory and science and technology studies to consider the role of law on issues arising from biotechnology and science-based knowledge systems that implicate social norms and personal values.

Disability Rights Law

Discussion - 3 hours. This course examines disability law and theory. The course is devoted to the Americans with Disabilities Act (particularly Titles I, II, and III) as it applies to employment, education, public accommodations, and government services and programs. Topics include the statutory definition of disability; the social and medical models of disability; the nature of disability discrimination; the construction of effective remedies; the role of medical expertise in the remedial process; and reasonable accommodations and defenses.

Health Care Law

Discussion - 3 hours.  The course addresses law and policy issues in health care financing and access to health care.  Course materials and discussion will draw from current events as well as case law, statutes and regulations.  Likely topics include the Affordable Care Act and challenges to it, alternative health care payer systems, including single-payer proposals, and role of civil rights law in leveraging access to health care, and the implications of religious freedom protections on health care access.

Final Assessment: Exam.

Law and Society Seminar

Seminar - 2 hours.   This course provides an overview of various intersections between sociology and law in the United States, from the origins of the country through current debates. Substantive topics may include how race, gender, class, or sexual orientation affect immigration and citizenship, education, housing and residence, or criminal justice. We will examine these issues through social science articles, case law, the U.S. Constitution and other laws, as well as media output (film and newsprint).

Public Health Law

Seminar - 2 hrs. Public health law, seen broadly, is the government's power and responsibility to ensure the conditions for the population's health. The use of this power results in a series of trade-offs between the collective good of public health and the individual's interests in liberty and property. We will look at the debate over paternalism, as well as issues raised by methods such as surveillance, health education campaigns, immunization and testing, quarantine, and criminal prosecution.

Reproductive Rights, Law, and Policy

Seminar - 2 units. This course uses both reproductive rights and reproductive justice frameworks. It also incorporates critical race and feminist theory to examine a wide range of laws and practices that impact reproductive rights in the United States.