Randy Spivey, Associate Professor and Academic Director
The Institute for Law, Justice and Society offers an undergraduate major and minor academic program which looks at the legal system as a vehicle for bringing about social change. By blending law, justice and society (LJS) course offerings with classes from a variety of academic areas including psychology, sociology, history, political science, business, Bible and communications, students explore how laws impact society. As a result, students wanting to make a difference in the world discover ways they can institute legal change for resulting social change and vice versa.
The academic program’s mission is to provide an integrated, multidisciplinary learning in the context of ethics and Judeo-Christian values. This course of study develops practical liberal arts skills and knowledge about the many areas in which the American legal system influences our society.
Distinctives of the Law, Justice and Society Program
When compared to other universities in the United States, Lipscomb’s Law, Justice and Society academic program is unique because:
- We are the only program in the nation that incorporates trips to Washington, D.C., and abroad in the course curriculum. While other schools talk about the places we visit and their impact on the legal system, we experience it firsthand.
- We are the only program in the nation to incorporate an “Education for a Cause” project that spans the entire LJS curriculum. We know students can make a difference in the world today.
- We are one of only a handful of programs to require community service. We recognize the importance of learning through serving.
- We are one of the few programs to require an internship. We know that those with experience are the first to secure career placements.
- We are located in a state capital. We take advantage of our location by incorporating field trips to the legislature and providing opportunities for students to interact with state leaders.
The City as our Campus; The World as our Classroom
Classes are scheduled in blocks of time to allow for field trips and observations in the Nashville legal community. Additionally, distinguished lecturers supplement the program’s faculty. Students participate in two required trips: Washington, D.C., and an international destination. On these trips, students will visit the legislature, the highest courts, prominent law firms, social justice NGOs and a variety of other law-related organizations.
Education for a Cause
Each student in the Law, Justice and Society program selects a social cause of personal significance and works throughout their academic career to improve or eliminate the cause and its effects on society. For example, a student may choose to significantly reduce the homeless population in the United States. In the course Influencing Change through Civic Engagement, the student would volunteer for a homeless shelter and become familiar with the underlying problems at the core of this issue. Then in the Internship course, the student would work for an organization related to homelessness. Using the information learned from these experiences, the student would create a legal solution to their social issue in the Senior Research Project course.
A Program of SALT Scholars
In Acts 20:35 Paul writes, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” The LJS program values service and believes some of life’s greatest lessons are achieved through giving to others. Therefore, the Law, Justice and Society curriculum has been designed to allow its students to achieve the notable SALT Scholar designation at graduation. T.S. Eliot once wrote, “We had the experience, but missed the meaning.” Carefully planned classroom activities allow students to discuss their service work and ensure that no one misses the lessons learned while serving others.
Connected to the Legal Community
The Law, Justice and Society program allows students to shake hands with federal and state legislators, lobbyists, attorneys and politicians. In fact, many of the class sessions will be taught by these distinguished and accomplished individuals. These connections can aid students with career placement or graduate school admission upon graduation from Lipscomb.
At the conclusion of the Law, Justice & Society academic program, graduates should possess these core knowledge, skills and abilities:
- ability to critically assess the working and implications of law in different social contexts;
- competence in the historical, comparative and global perspectives on law, justice and society;
- ability to scrutinize and test theories and concepts taught in class on real-world issues;
- exhibit substantive knowledge and understanding of socio-legal subject matter;
- demonstrate legal reasoning while analyzing material from divergent sources;
- exhibit effective oral and written communication skills;
- ability to formulate legal solutions that lead to social change; and
- ability to place legal issues in the broader context of society.
Graduates of the program will be prepared for careers in a variety of areas, including work in all three branches of government and with corporate and not-for-profit entities.
Specific opportunities may include:
- Corporate compliance officer
- Negotiator or mediator
- Community advocate
- Nonprofit administrator
- Court management
- Risk management and claims adjusting
- Law firm management
Additionally, students will be prepared for graduate studies in other areas such as conflict management, law, public administration, and business.
Joint Law, Justice, and Society/Master of Conflict Management Program
Students majoring in Law, Justice and Society may pursue the Master of Arts in Conflict Management as part of a joint degree program that includes 120 hours of Law, Justice and Society classes and 30 hours of Institute for Conflict Management classes. Students should make this decision in concert with their academic advisor and would declare their intent to pursue the joint program at the same time as formal major-minor declaration. Students who choose this direction would need signatures from both the Institute for Law, Justice and Society and the Institute for Conflict Management at the time of declaration. This program does not require students to pursue a minor; however, if a student changes his or her emphasis, a minor must be added. Formal admission to the Master of Arts in Conflict Management program will take into account the student’s undergraduate GPA and GRE scores. Please refer to the Graduate Catalog for more information.
Students majoring in law, justice and society can earn either a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Arts degree. The major requires the completion of 45 hours specific to the Law, Justice and Society program. In addition to the specific required classes for all law, justice and society majors, students must select an emphasis area for the remaining 12 hours in the program. Each emphasis is comprised of numerous classes from which students may select. To minor in law, justice and society, students would need to complete 18 hours selected from the program’s curriculum.
Program of Study RequirementsMajorMinor