Course Descriptions

Constitutional Innovation Seminar LAW-881

This course addresses the question of how constitutional meaning changes by examining the U.S. Constitution in transnational and historical perspective. The focus is democracy; slavery, emancipation, and freedom; empire; and governmental structures. The approach is comparative and dynamic. It is comparative in asking how the U.S. Constitution differs from and resembles the organic charters of other nations (and groups of nations). Such questions clarify what innovations the United States and other nations have made and illuminate innovations that they could have pursued – and still could pursue. The approach is dynamic in recognizing that members of nations do not act in isolation as they construct constitutional systems. Innovation does not occur in a vacuum. Since the Founding, the people who have drafted, construed, and implemented the U.S. Constitution have turned to – and altered – many ideas with foreign pedigrees. In turn, as members of other polities framed, changed, and executed their own constitutional schemes, they have repeatedly borrowed and reworked aspects of the U.S. approach.
Course Details
Units 2, 3, 4
Grading Options Numeric
Exam Type Paper
Writing Requirement Yes
Skills/Experiential Requirement No
Enrollment Limit 25

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