Achieving Scientific Literacy in the Classroom: Climate Science and Law Curriculum

Project Dates

Law increasingly demands science to answer key questions in a trial, but the intersection of the two disciplines extends far beyond the courtroom. Much of the legal community does not have scientific training, even though basic scientific literacy is important for many fields of law. The purpose of this project was to develop a curriculum for law students that integrates science and the law. Both law and science professors were queried regarding the most important scientific topics to teach that were related to law. Based on these discussions and review of readily available curricula and literature on scientific literacy skills, the curriculum topics for this project were identified, revised, and edited to fit the constraints of the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law Spring 2015, post-February Bar schedule. Readings and other class material were identified to accompany the in-class lectures and discussion.

The project resulted in two significant final outputs: the final curriculum and a class offered at the UA College of Law, LAW 698O: Integrating Science and the Law in Practice (taught during the Spring 2015 semester). The curriculum is a transferrable template for law schools across the country, and the class is the first of its kind to be taught at the UA College of Law. The goal of the curriculum is to introduce students to the scientific context they may encounter in practice and to familiarize them with basic scientific principles to enhance their professional careers. The class consists of lectures and readings, in addition to experiential learning activities that combine questions of science and law in a professional legal context. Lowering the boundary between science and law by teaching basic scientific literacy skills to law students will promote the two-way flow of information between these critical disciplines.