Foundations in Law

Foundations in Law helps students understand why we live under the rule of law, and how laws are created, enforced, interpreted, and changed. The course enables students to examine diverse areas of law, including criminal, civil, constitutional, and international. It also explores civil rights issues and the role of advocacy, civics, and the media in our legal system.

Students are encouraged to consider these topics through several lenses:

  • Philosophical and Historical: Theoretical foundations of the legal system, and purposes and justifications of laws and social contracts.
  • Power and Fairness: How the law and legal systems can be used both to protect and oppress. The balance of different kinds of power within society is also explored.
  • U.S. Law and Law Enforcement: How laws are created, enforced, and interpreted. The relationship between law and public policy at the federal, state and local levels of government are also studied.
  • Advocacy and Policy: How individuals and groups, including young people, can take action to reform our legal system.
  • Career Exploration: What career paths exist in the legal and criminal justice systems, and how the pursuit of a particular profession can serve as a form of civic action.
  • Comparative Systems: How the U.S. legal system compares with legal and political systems, philosophies, and practices of other countries.

“The most interesting part of this course is learning about how all the laws developed. The course empowered me by helping me choose the career I might want one day, and it made me want to do more in my community through civic action.”

Student at table

Essential Questions

  • Why do we have laws? What is the role of law in society?
  • What are justice and injustice?
  • Why are there different interpretations of the law?
  • What are the different roles and professions in the U.S. legal system?
  • How does the U.S. legal system affect young people, and how can they help achieve justice in their community?

Course Sequence

  • Unit 1: Human Nature, Rules, and Power: The Origins of Law
  • Unit 2: The Legal System in Action
  • Unit 3: Criminal Law and the Pursuit of Justice
  • Unit 4: Lawsuits and Liability: The Civil Justice System
  • Unit 5: Equal Justice Under the Law: Movements for Social, Political, and Legal Equality
  • Unit 6: International Law and Human Rights

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Integrated Lessons For Other Academic Subjects Developed by ConnectEd

Career Explorations: Integrated Curriculum Unit on Law and Justice Careers

Crime Scene Investigation: Integrated Curriculum Unit on Forensics