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Law and Society

Course Details

Course Number
Section Number
Fall 2015
Laura Woods Fidelie (view Profile)

Course Attachments


Course Objectives

Course Description


The purpose of this course is to examine the justice systems of the United States, foreign countries, and international justice systems from a holistic standpoint.  Various justice systems will be examined from both a legal and sociological perspective.  This course will explore the ways that justice systems reflect the societies in which they exist, and the impact that contemporary society has on the formation and evolution of these justice systems.  Special emphasis will be placed on current events, society’s influence on lawmaking, law as a means of social control and social change, law as a means of dispute resolution, and the evolution and current state of the legal profession.



Course Objectives


            At the conclusion of this course, you should be able to:


1)      Explain and comprehend some of the major relationships and interactions between American society and the laws of the United States, and the ways that each is affected by the other.

2)      Think like a lawmaker by working with a small group in order to propose realistic solutions to real-world issues.

3)      Relate the interaction between society and the law to civilization on a national, regional, state, and local level, as well as within your own life.

4)      Conduct an in-depth exploration of a topic of particular interest and relevance to you, and research the ways that the interaction between society and the law has an impact upon this subject.

5)      Communicate research findings and applicable topics to others in an effective manner

6)      Think critically about issues related to society and the law, and be able to participate in a productive and intelligent discussion regarding these issues, problems, and potential solutions.

Course Expectations

Course Requirements


            1) Discussion Questions


The discussion questions you respond to each week are a critical and integral portion of the course.  This is where I can make the determination, or non-determination, that you are (1) reading, (2) comprehending, (3) applying, and (4) correlating the knowledge you learn to other aspects of the course and your degree program in general. 


For each discussion question asked, I am looking for a detailed and well thought-out answer that integrates the assigned reading, your knowledge, and your own thoughts and perspective on the question posed.  Your answers to the discussion questions should consist of your own analysis and synthesis of the course material presented.  No credit will be given for answers that are either copied from the textbook or another source, or are substantially similar to the textbook or another source.  Your answers to discussion questions must utilize correct grammar, capitalization, and punctuation.  When referencing outside material, proper APA citations must be given.  If you have any questions on what constitutes a quality answer to a discussion question, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Your answers must be posted as text within the D2L text box.  Do not post your answers as a document attachment.  Each question must be answered separately within the thread started for each question.  Do not answer all the questions in one posting.  Answers that are posted as document attachments or answered all in one posting WILL NOT BE GRADED.


Your own answers to the discussion questions will constitute 75% of your grade for each discussion assignment.



2) Discussion Board Participation


Every week throughout the semester, discussions will be held via D2L.  Discussions are a vital part of the class, as they occur in lieu of live class discussions that would normally take place in a traditional class setting.  Thoughtful participation in each of these discussions is mandatory and will be calculated as a part of your participation grade.  Discussions will take place by each student:


1)      answering each discussion question given for that week AND

2)      responding to the answer that another student has given to one of that week’s discussion questions. 


In addition to responding to that week’s assigned discussion questions with your own answers, each student must respond to the answer of any fellow student at least one time per week.  When responding to the answer of a fellow student, you must comment upon his or her answer to the discussion question, state whether you agree or disagree with the answer and reasoning given, and give support for your response.  Your responses to the answers of fellow students must contain a minimum of 200 words.  Responses must utilize proper grammar, punctuation, and capitalization.  When referencing outside material, proper APA citations must be used. 


Your response to a classmate will count for 25% of your grade for each discussion assignment.


When responding to the answers and thoughts of another student, it is perfectly acceptable to agree or disagree with their answer.  However, all responses must be constructive, must not be derogatory in any way, must not use inappropriate language, and must show respect for the thoughts and opinions of your fellow students.  If you would not make the comment in the classroom, do not make it on D2L.  Violating these rules of etiquette will result in a loss of all points for that discussion assignment.  If there are any questions about what constitutes an appropriate response, please contact the professor.



3) Examinations


Two essay exams will be given during the semester.  The purpose of these exams is to assess your knowledge and application of the information presented throughout the readings, class discussions, and assignments.  Because of the nature of an online course, these exams are inevitably open book.  As such, I am looking for exam answers that show me that you have taken the materials presented in the course, comprehended them, and applied them to real-life scenarios and to your own thought processes, rather than merely reciting facts from a textbook.  As in the discussion assignments, no credit will be given for answers that are merely recitations of information from your textbook.


Exams are to be completed individually by each student.  Collaboration with other students is not allowed on exams.  Collaboration will be considered an act of academic dishonesty.



4) Research Paper   


A research paper of your own original work is required for this course.  The paper will be written on a topic of your choice in accordance with the topic guidelines given for this assignment.  The paper should show your ability to reflect upon topic(s) discussed in the course and show how the topic(s) are affected by society and the law, as well as what impact society and the law have upon your chosen topic(s.)


The paper should be between 10-12 double-spaced pages in length, excluding title page(s), references, and appendices.  This means 10-12 page of substantive text (ie, 10-12 pages of your own writing).  The paper should be written in 12-point Times New Roman font with 1-inch margins.  Papers should be carefully edited to eliminate grammatical errors.  For each full or partial page that the research paper is short of the length requirements, one (1) letter grade will be deducted from your final research paper grade.


The paper must utilize a minimum of five (5) scholarly sources.  Your paper may not utilize electronic sources.  For the purposes of this course, electronic sources are unverifiable web pages and other non-scholarly publications found on the Internet.  Books, scholarly journals, and other reliable publications that are accessed by means of the Internet are not considered electronic sources and are perfectly acceptable for use in your paper.  If there are any questions about the acceptability of a certain source, please contact the professor.


APA 6th edition referencing should be utilized throughout the paper.  Exploring the scholarly work of others is an important part of active research.  However, when the work of others is reflected in your own paper, credit must be given through proper citation.  Failure to do this is plagiarism and constitutes academic dishonesty.


Your research paper must be an original work, created and submitted exclusively for this course.  Submitting a research paper identical to or substantially similar to a paper submitted for any other course, at either MSU or another academic institution, will be considered an act of academic dishonesty and will result in an automatic grade of F for the course.


More specific information regarding the research paper assignment will be given later in the semester. 



5. Research Paper Summary


On October 25, you must submit a summary of the topic on which you plan to write your research paper.  The summary is a brief 1-2 paragraph description of your chosen topic and how you plan to examine that topic’s relationship to law and society.  The research summary must include a minimum of five scholarly sources with APA citations that you plan to use in writing your paper.  After the summary is submitted, you are permitted to add more sources to your paper.


I will read your summary, either approve or disapprove your topic and sources, and return the summary to you with feedback that will help you in writing your paper.  While the research summary will not be given a numerical grade, it will be given a completion grade.  Failure to either submit a research summary or to submit a revised research summary (if applicable) will result in a deduction of one (1) letter grade from your final grade on the research paper.


Please feel free to contact me about any questions you have regarding course assignments.

Grading Standards

Grading Policy


Exam I                                                            15%


            Exam II                                                          15%


            Research Paper                                             35%


            D2L Discussion & Participation                  35%


                                                                        Total   100%



Failure to complete any of these assignments will result in a grade of F for the course.


All assignments will be graded on a 100-point scale.  


Your final grade will be determined on the following scale:


                        A=       90-100   

                        B=       80-89     

                        C=       70-79     

                        D=       60-69

                        F=        60-below 

Submission Format Policy Note: You may not submit a paper for a grade in this class that already has been (or will be) submitted for a grade in another course, unless you obtain the explicit written permission of me and the other instructor involved in advance.
Plagiarism Policy

Plagiarism is the use of someone else's thoughts, words, ideas, or lines of argument in your own work without appropriate documentation (a parenthetical citation at the end and a listing in "Works Cited")-whether you use that material in a quote, paraphrase, or summary. It is a theft of intellectual property and will not be tolerated, whether intentional or not.

Student Honor Creed

As an MSU Student, I pledge not to lie, cheat, steal, or help anyone else do so."

As students at MSU, we recognize that any great society must be composed of empowered, responsible citizens. We also recognize universities play an important role in helping mold these responsible citizens. We believe students themselves play an important part in developing responsible citizenship by maintaining a community where integrity and honorable character are the norm, not the exception.

Thus, We, the Students of Midwestern State University, resolve to uphold the honor of the University by affirming our commitment to complete academic honesty. We resolve not only to be honest but also to hold our peers accountable for complete honesty in all university matters.

We consider it dishonest to ask for, give, or receive help in examinations or quizzes, to use any unauthorized material in examinations, or to present, as one's own, work or ideas which are not entirely one's own. We recognize that any instructor has the right to expect that all student work is honest, original work. We accept and acknowledge that responsibility for lying, cheating, stealing, plagiarism, and other forms of academic dishonesty fundamentally rests within each individual student.

We expect of ourselves academic integrity, personal professionalism, and ethical character. We appreciate steps taken by University officials to protect the honor of the University against any who would disgrace the MSU student body by violating the spirit of this creed.

Written and adopted by the 2002-2003 MSU Student Senate.

Students with Disabilities

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact the Disability Support Services in Room 168 of the Clark Student Center, (940) 397-4140.

Safe Zones Statement

The professor considers this classroom to be a place where you will be treated with respect as a human being - regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, political beliefs, age, or ability. Additionally, diversity of thought is appreciated and encouraged, provided you can agree to disagree. It is the professor's expectation that ALL students consider the classroom a safe environment.

Contacting your Instructor

All instructors in the Department have voicemail in their offices and MWSU e-mail addresses. Make sure you add your instructor's phone number and e-mail address to both email and cell phone lists of contacts.

Other Policies



Week 1 (due by 11:59 PM CST, Sunday, August 30):

            Read Vago, Chapter 1

            D2L Discussion Questions and Response

Submit Biographical Information and Syllabus Agreement  (for the syllabus agreement, just send me an email stating that you have read the syllabus and agree to abide by its terms throughout the semester)



Weeks 2 & 3 (due by 11:59 PM CST, Sunday, September 13):

            Read Vago, Chapter 3

            D2L Discussion Questions and Response



Week 4 (due by 11:59 PM CST, Sunday, September 20):

            Read Vago, Chapter 4

            D2L Discussion Questions and Response



Week 5 (due by 11:59 PM CST, Sunday, September 27)

            Exam I



Weeks 6 & 7 (due by 11:59 PM CST, Sunday, October 11)

            Read Vago, Chapter 5

            D2L Discussion Questions and Response



Weeks 8 & 9 (due by 11:59 PM CST, Sunday, October 25)

            Read Vago, Chapters 6 & 9

            D2L Discussion Questions and Response

            Research Summaries due



Week 10 (due by 11:59 PM CST, Sunday, November 1)

            Read Vago, Chapter 7

            D2L Discussion Questions and Response



Week 11 (due by 11:59 PM CST, Sunday, November 8)

Exam II



Week 12 (due by 11:59 PM CST, Sunday, November 15)

            Read Vago, Chapter 8

            D2L Discussion Questions and Response



Weeks 13 & 14 (due by 11:59 PM CST, Sunday, November 29)

Research paper

Writing Proficiency Requirement

All students seeking a Bachelor's degree from Midwestern State University must satisfy a writing proficiency requirement once they've 1) passed the 6 hours of Communication Core and and 2) earned 60 hours. You may meet this requirement by passing either the Writing Proficiency Exam or English 2113. Please keep in mind that, once you've earned over 90 hours, you lose the opportunity to take the $25 exam and have no option but to enroll in the three-credit hour course. If you have any questions about the exam, visit the Writing Proficiency Office website at, or call 397-4131.

Campus Carry

Senate Bill 11 passed by the 84th Texas Legislature allows licensed handgun holders to carry concealed handguns on campus, effective August 1, 2016. Areas excluded from concealed carry are appropriately marked, in accordance with state law. For more information regarding campus carry, please refer to the University’s webpage at

If you have questions or concerns, please contact MSU Chief of Police Patrick Coggins at