Thanks for visiting our website. The Jurisprudence and Social Policy (JSP) Program is a unique doctoral program at the University of California, Berkeley. JSP is housed within the School of Law, but unlike most graduate law programs, JSP is organized under UC Berkeley’s Graduate Division. Established in 1978, JSP was the first PhD program in the United States focused on law and continues to be the leading program of its kind anywhere.
JSP integrates the study of law with the humanities and social sciences and, by doing so, seeks to a broad context for understanding and developing legal policy. While there are many productive ways to link law to the research tools of the disciplines, we are committed to pursuing plural, interdisciplinary scholarship that includes humanistic and social scientific approaches to the study of law. Our students generally specialize in some portion of this spectrum and benefit from exposure to teachers and peers with diverse research interests. Students also benefit from a suitable mix of interdisciplinary courses offered by JSP and other Berkeley Law faculty as well as classes in the Law School’s traditional JD curriculum. These and other features of our program have become a model for other doctoral programs in interdisciplinary legal studies, many of which have turned to our alumni for their faculties.
JSP faculty are leading scholars in their field who hail from a variety of disciplines – including political science, sociology, economics, history, philosophy, and psychology. Our faculty produce state-of-the-art scholarship in following areas: law and society; law and politics; law and economics; moral and political philosophy; legal history; psychology of law; political economy; criminal justice and social policy. Beginning with the JSP Orientation Seminar and through a range of course offerings in the humanities and social sciences, we offer students training in both empirical and normative analysis of law. Over the past decade, JSP has grown, adding faculty who offer a range of cutting-edge courses in quantitative and qualitative research methods and research design that are specially oriented to the study of law. Our substantive course offerings also have increased in scope, pushing the boundaries of knowledge across multiple fields.
JSP is closely integrated with the Center for the Study of Law and Society (CSLS), which attracts visiting scholars from all over the world, hosts one of the most dynamic speaker series on campus, and provides an intellectual hub for top notch research on law and legal institutions. CSLS also offers the Berkeley Empirical Legal Studies (BELS) Graduate Fellowship, which brings together doctoral students studying law and social science from JSP and other programs on the Berkeley campus in a year-long research workshop. Berkeley Law is also teeming with other research centers offering programs and expertise on issues ranging from law, energy and the environment; reproductive rights and justice; law and business, social justice; morality, law, and public affairs; to name just a few.
This is an extraordinarily time for scholars and students with interdisciplinary training in law. The collective challenges confronting us today span diverse legal systems, fields of expertise, cultures, and regions of the world. In this context, interdisciplinary training in law is not only an advantage for a professional career in academic, public service, or policy advocacy, but also urgently needed kindling for innovative theorizing, creative problem-solving, and breakthrough empirical research.
Please feel welcome to poke around this website where you can get to know our students and our faculty and learn more about the JSP program by viewing recent course offerings and upcoming conferences. I especially urge you to learn more about our advanced graduate students currently seeking academic jobs as well as our illustrious alumni and their current whereabouts. Nothing reflects so well on our program as our graduates and what they continue to accomplish with their training here at Berkeley.
If you have any questions about the JSP Program, please feel welcome to contact me, our Graduate Advisor, Rachel Stern, or our Student Affairs Officer, Margo Rodriguez.
Taeku Lee, Associate Dean
Jurisprudence and Social Policy