JSP students prepare two fields of specialization as part of their pre-dissertation program of study. The Program distinguishes between "disciplinary" and "topical" fields of specialization. A student's choice of fields is usually governed by several considerations, including such important matters as intended career-paths and anticipated dissertation topics.
The Program offers five disciplinary fields of specialization: economics and law; history and law; philosophy and law; political science and law; sociology and law. The disciplinary field prepares students to evaluate and contribute to the law-related scholarship in an established discipline, and complements the students' more interdisciplinary training. Passing the disciplinary field exam provides a credential that the student is ready to teach introductory courses in the respective discipline as well as more specialized law oriented courses. For students interested in other disciplines like psychology, anthropology, and criminology, JSP faculty will help construct a customized field with appropriate course work and reading.
Topical fields cover a more heterogeneous and individualized set of specializations. Whereas "disciplinary fields" relate to single, established disciplines and academic departments, topical fields bring multi-disciplinary perspectives to bear on their given subject-matters. Many topical fields focus on a general topic which is treated by several areas of the law and to which various policy objectives have been assigned; others comprise well-established sub-disciplines - such as "political theory" or "criminal justice" - not covered by the program's Disciplinary Fields.
Students develop their topical fields in consultation with members of the JSP faculty. The arrangement provides considerable flexibility in one main area of the student's specialization. A varied number of topical fields have been undertaken at JSP, including (from recent examples): criminal justice; feminist jurisprudence; political theory; comparative constitutionalism; law and risk; children, parents and the state; law and social theory; environmental policy and law; deviance and social control; religion and law.