Some of these courses will feature Stevenson's book or excerpts from it. Others deal with topics that are central to Just Mercy. Taking any of these courses will deepen your understanding of this year's book and the issues it raises.

Fall 2016

African American Studies 100: Black Intellectual Thought

Leigh Raiford |

This course lets students explore the status of African American studies as a discipline. The class will discuss the social relevance of African American studies, the political origins of the discipline, and the debate over Afrocentricity. Special attention will be devoted to the contributions of black feminist theory and community scholars/organic intellectuals to the development of the discipline. 

African American Studies 111: Race, Gender, and Class in the United States

Stephen Small | Schedule →

African American Studies 139: Black Nationalism

Nikki Jones |

Examines the concept of black nationalism and its historical and intellectual development. Special attention will be given to the role of African American religion and the attempt to develop "black socialism." 

African American Studies 27AC: Lives of Struggle: Minorities in a Majority Culture

Michael Cohen | Schedule →

The purpose of this course is to examine the many forms that the struggle of minorities can assume. The focus is on individual struggle and its outcome as reported and perceived by the individuals themselves. Members of three minority aggregates are considered: African Americans, Asian Americans (so called), and Chicano/Latino Americans. The choice of these three has to do with the different histories of members of these aggregates. Such differences have produced somewhat different approaches to struggle. 

Anthropology 157: Anthropology of Law

Laura Nader | Schedule →

Comparative survey of the ethnography of law; methods and concepts relevant to the comparative analysis of the forms and functions of law. 

Asian American Studies 141: Law in the Asian American Community

Thomas Fleming | Schedule →

 Course will examine the nature, structure, and operation of selected legal institutions as they affect Asian American communities and will attempt to analyze the roles and effects of law, class, and race in American society.

College Writing R1A, section 4: Crossing & Straddling Borders

Michelle Baptiste |

As you develop your voice as a writer in this intensive reading and writing course, we will explore borders—both real and imagined.  We will discuss diverse issues, including identity, culture, immigration, law, justice and ethics.  You will analyze a novel, non-fiction texts, a film, a short story, cartoons, photos, and scholarly articles as you become an expert at identifying a perceived border and discussing when, where, how, and why it is crossed—or straddled. 


Expect to delve deeply into the texts (reading and rereading), as well as revise your writing extensively (writing and rewriting).  You will write essays that demonstrate your ability to identify, reflect on, and analyze authors’ choices--what they have included and excluded in their texts, just as you make those same choices in your own essays.  We will work on all stages of the writing process, including close reading, idea generation, topic narrowing, pattern recognition, thesis statement and thesis argument development, use of sources, citing, structure, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, grammar, and mechanics.  In this course you will expand your repertoire as a writer so you can access multiple ways to support a thesis argumentclearly expressing your ideas and asserting your voice.

Ethnic Studies 190AC: inside and Beyond Walls: Migra, Masses, and the Carceral State

Victoria Robinson | Schedule →

The scale and shape of migrant detention and prison incarceration has sharp racial configurations. What policies and logics explain the rise of the carceral state? What mobilizations and organizing is emerging in the face of these realities and the "carceral crisis"?

Law 208: Foundation Seminar in the Sociology of Law

Catherine Albiston |

This course is a general introduction to the sociology of law intended for graduate students in all disciplines.  The sociology of law treats law as a social institution and examines how law relates to social structure, social inequality, and broad changes in society.  Scholars in this field study how law constitutes the major categories of social life and structures social behavior, and examine law as it is embedded within social context as a social institution rather than as an authoritative text.  This foundation seminar will cover classic and contemporary works that address law, rights and social change; law, inequality and power; the social construction of disputes and dispute resolution; organizations and law; the legal profession; and social movements and law.  Doctoral students in the JSP program who plan to take the sociology of law field exam should take this course in preparation.

Legal Studies 100: Foundations of Legal Studies

Jonathan Marshall |

This is a liberal arts course designed to introduce students to the foundational frameworks and cross-disciplinary perspectives from humanities and social sciences that distinguish legal studies as a scholarly field. It provides a comparative and historical introduction to forms, ideas, institutions, and systems of law and sociological ordering. It highlights basic theoretical problems and scholarly methods for understanding questions of law and justice. 

Legal Studies 109: Aims and Limits of the Criminal Law

Richard Perry | Schedule →

Analysis of the capacity of criminal law to fulfill its aims. What are the aims of criminal Law? How are they assigned relative priority? What principles can be identified for evaluating the effort to control disapproved activities through criminal law?

Legal Studies 163: Adolescence, Crime and Juvenile Justice

Franklin Zimring | Schedule →

 This course examines the premises, doctrine, and operational behavior of juvenile courts, particularly in relation to the commission of seriously anti-social acts by mid-adolescents. Topics include the history of theories of delinquency, the jurisprudence of delinquency, the incidence and severity of delinquency, police response to juvenile offenders, the processes of juvenile courts and youth corrections, and reforms or alternatives to the juvenile court system. 

Legal Studies 170: Crime and Criminal Justice

Richard Perry | Schedule →

This course introduces the classical scholarly frameworks for thinking about crime, and their evolution into current debates. It examines the scope and nature of crime in the United States from a comparative and interdisciplinary perspective, as well as the uses and limits of the criminal justice system. Further topics will include the massive expansion of the U.S. prison system in recent years and its relation to crime rates, critical analyses of different theories of the causes of crime, strategies for preventing and controlling crime, the death penalty, gun control, white collar crime, and crime in family settings. The course will introduce concepts of criminal law and the main elements of the criminal justice system, including police, courts, and corrections. It will consider the main institutional features, problems, and critiques of the processes through which suspects are apprehended, tried, sentenced, and punished. Past and current trends and policy questions will be discussed. Since U.C. Berkeley is now, and has long been, one of the world’s leading centers for the study of law and society, the work of both past and current Berkeley scholars at will be highlighted.

Legal Studies 184: Sociology of Law

Hillary Berk and Calvin Morrill | Schedule →

 This course explores major issues and debates in the sociology of law.  Topics include theoretical perspectives on the relationship between law and society, theories of why people obey (and disobey) the law, the relationship between law and social norms, the “law in action” in litigation and dispute resolution, the roles of lawyers, judges, and juries in the legal system and in society, and the role of law in social change.  The course will examine these issues from an empirical perspective.

Letters & Science C140V: The History and Practice of Human Rights

Stefan-Ludwig Hoffman | Schedule →

What are human rights? Where did they originate and when? Who retains them, and when are we obliged to defend them? Through what kinds of institutions, practices, and frameworks have they been advocated and affirmed? And which are the human rights that we take to be self evident? The rights to speak and worship freely? To legal process? To shelter and nourishment? Do our human rights include high-speed internet access, as one Scandinavian country has recently proposed? Can human rights ever be global in scope? Or is the idea of universal human rights a delusion or, worse, a manifestation of cultural chauvinism?

History will not answer these questions for us, but historical understanding can help us answer them for ourselves. “The History and Practice of Human Rights” examines the historical development of human rights to the present day, focusing on, but not confined to, the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. While the idiom of human rights is frequently legalistic, we will ask how the idea of human rights might depend upon humanistic modes of comprehension and communication such as film, literature, music, and the arts: media that can stretch the horizons of elastic human empathy.

More than a history of origins, however, this course will contemplate the relationships between human rights and other crucial themes in the history of the modern era, including revolution, imperialism, racism and genocide. Why, we must ask, did an era of recurrent and catastrophic political violence produce a language of universal human rights? Looking forward, can the proponents of human rights offer a redemptive alternative to twentieth centuryʼs catastrophes, or are human rights themselves another false utopia?

As a history of international and global themes and an examination of specific practices and organizations, this course will ask students to make comparisons across space and time and to reflect upon the evolution of human rights in international thought and action.


Native American Studies 100: Native American Law

Joseph Myers | Schedule →

Historical background of the unique relationship between the United States government and Native American tribes, and examination of contemporary legislation, court cases, and federal, state, and local policies affecting Native American social, political, legal, and economic situations. 

Sociology 130AC: Social Inequalities

Joanna Reed | Schedule →

This course explores the causes and consequences of inequality in the U.S. We will begin by discussing concepts and theories scholars use to understand and measure different forms of inequality and explain its persistence. We will then turn to the main mechanisms and institutions important in structuring inequality in the U.S., including education, labor markets, welfare policy and family structure, residential segregation and neighborhoods, health and the environment and the criminal justice system. Within each topic area, we will pay special attention to the significance of race and ethnicity, social class and gender. This course satisfies the American Cultures requirement. 

Fall Program for Freshmen

Rhetoric R1B: Just Reading

Kirsten Schwartz |

"Just" here does not mean "only" or "merely", but "fair" or "equitable", as in the title of Berkeley's "On The Same Page" book, Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson.  We'll read that book as well as several others that deal with justice and injustice in society, in the media, and in the individual.  We'll have plenty of discussion, several take-home essays, and several in-class essays, on these readings; students will also learn the building blocks of argument (rhetoric) and will practice the act of the "rhetor", public speaking.  Some instruction and practice in English language and usage will round out the activities—this will be a busy but rewarding and improving semester.