CURRENTLY, THE CLASS IS NOT BEING OFFERED AS WE ARE RE-DESIGNING THE CURRICULUM FOR WIDER DISSEMINATION AND CONTINUING LEGAL EDUCATION CREDIT - WHEN AVAILABLE IT WILL BE ANNOUNCED HERE.
This course addresses how new discoveries in neuroscience will intersect with the making of law, the punishment of criminals, and the development of new rehabilitation strategies. The readings will bring together a unique conjunction of neurobiology, legal scholarship, and policy making. The goals of the course will be to facilitate an understanding of the neurobiological underpinnings of behaviors that are subject to legal consequences for individuals and groups, and using this emerging base of scientific information to design modern, evidence-based policy.
In conjunction with currently available literature on the topic, individual student projects will study and develop suggestions for new experiments and evidence-based policy. An example would be designing experiments that could identify neural signatures predictive of recidivism, and developing the policy structures in which these predictions should be used.
Who can take the course:
This course is offered to undergraduate, graduate and medical students, law students, and practicing physicians, scientists and lawyers. There is no charge to join this course; we only ask that you send us an email to let us know that you would like to join.
- Introduction to main topics: Responsibility, competency, prediction of criminal behavior, and the neural basis of law and punishment
- Background: Genetics, Behavior and Law
- The frontal cortex and limbic system: the neuroscience of morality, aggression and empathy
- Mental illness and the insanity defense
- Psychopathy and what to do about it
- New technologies and courts of law
- Predicting recidivism: promises and limitations
- How to have meaningful rehabilitation
- Civil Law: from negotiation to fraud
- How jurors make decisions
- Theories of punishment (what is the purpose of our criminal system?)
A complete reading of the assigned literature, weekly blog posts, active class discussion, and the writing of a final project.
Weekly Blog Post
Each week write a blog post regarding something of neurolaw interest to you, based on an article or news story. These should be 1-3 paragraphs, and can be based on topics we've discussed, things you've read, or issues you’re thinking about. These need to be original, linked, researched, and referenced. If you plagiarize, I'll catch you.
This course will be graded based on weekly blog posts (25%), quizzes/exams (20%), class attendance/participation (20%), and a final project (35%). The final paper will entail the proposal of an experimental approach to improve legal science. The experiment can be hypothetical or practical, but must be defended rigorously in its logic.