Thank you for visiting the website of the Jurisprudence and Social Policy (JSP) Program. JSP is a unique doctoral program housed within the School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. 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 lead the field.
JSP seeks to integrate the study of law with the humanities and social sciences, and provide a broad basis 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 the broadest interdisciplinary approach that includes approaches drawn from both social scientific and humanistic scholarship. Our students generally specialize in some portion of this spectrum, having benefited from exposure to teachers and peers with diverse research interests. Our unique location in the Law School facilitates our students taking classes in the traditional law school curriculum as well as the interdisciplinary courses offered by JSP and other Berkeley Law faculty. JSP faculty and alumni note with excitement the growth of the field we helped to pioneer. Our JSP program has become a model for other outstanding doctoral programs in interdisciplinary legal studies, many of which have turned to our alumni for their faculties.
JSP faculty hail from a variety of disciplines – including political science, sociology, economics, history, philosophy, and psychology – and interdisciplinary backgrounds, and are leading scholars in their fields. Our faculty offers state-of-the-art scholarship within and across: law and society; law and economics; law and politics; moral and political philosophy; legal history; psychology of law; and 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 undergone considerable growth, adding a number of new faculty members at the forefront of empirical and normative approaches to law. This growth has expanded our capabilities, enabling us to 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 renowned 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. Many other centers at Berkeley Law provide expertise and exciting programs in issues ranging from environmental justice to law and business to morality and public affairs to law and technology.
I believe this is an extraordinarily promising time for scholars and students with interdisciplinary training in law. The collective challenges faced in the twenty-first century 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 academia, public service, or policy advocacy, but also a necessary ingredient for innovation and effective problem solving in both academic research and legal policy.
Whether you are contemplating this field of study, or simply an interested reader, I encourage you to spend some time visiting this website where you can learn about our current students and our distinguished faculty, and get a sense of the program by viewing recent course offerings and upcoming conferences. You can also check out faculty blogs, find out about current job openings, and find out which of our advanced graduate students are seeking academic jobs. I especially urge you to learn more about our alumni, browsing their JSP dissertations and reading about their current activities. JSP continues its excellent job placement record, and nothing else reflects the unique qualities of our program so much as our graduates and what they have accomplished with their degrees.
Calvin Morrill, Associate Dean
Jurisprudence and Social Policy