Global Perspective on Law

Elective Course
Course Number: Law 507
Credits: 3

This course introduces the foundations of international law and provides a survey of the various legal traditions of the world. The aim of this class is to provide students with a broader understanding of what "law" is and its many forms. With regard to international law, this course discusses the nature of international law as a legal system, why nations do or do not comply with international law, and the basic sources of international law, including treaties and customary international law. The course also looks at some key sources and issues in international human rights law.

In addition, the course explores the major legal traditions in the world. Such traditions include: (1) the common law, which is our tradition, its origins in England, and its development through English colonies and in the United States; (2) Islamic law, its historic roots, how it functions in the present day, and its unique characteristics as a religiously-based tradition; (3) the civil law, the world's most wide-spread legal tradition, which comprises most of Europe, Asia and Latin America, including its historical roots in Roman law and its unique evolution; and (4) indigenous informal legal systems, often termed "chthonic" law. At the end of this course, we will apply what we've learned by comparing the international human rights of women with applicable Islamic law.