The strength of a democracy depends on all of its citizens being able to understand and think critically about public policies, laws, and the role of societal movements in shaping those policies and laws. This course will provide participants with the knowledge, skills, and materials to engage high school students in thinking critically about these topics through interactive techniques: in-class games and debates, site visits to courts and government units, and the design of mini-projects centered on law and society topics (students in this class will both engage in these activities themselves and learn the skills to implement these methods in their own classrooms).

This course will begin with an examination of the cultural, political and economic factors that shape the law in different social contexts. The class will pay special attention to law-society interactions in the Central Asian context - examining societal transformations since the breakup of the Soviet Union through a legislative lens. Participants will explore the ways in which social problems become defined as legal issues, the role that cultural values and assumptions can play in framing legal arguments and influencing judicial opinions, and the strengths and limitations of the law as a means of achieving social policy objectives. Throughout these discussions, the course will make participants aware of the unique opportunity they have and the significant responsibility they bear as educators to prepare their students to grow up as responsible citizens in a rapidly changing world. Educating students about their role in a democracy is one of the most fundamental goals of education in stratified and culturally diverse societies.