College of Education and Behavioral Sciences News
WKU's Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies sees growth in first year
- Alicia Carter
- Wednesday, February 22nd, 2023
One of WKU’s newest programs, the Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies, saw rapid growth in its opening year. Launching last spring, the program saw 22 students join by the fall semester, a strong start for the new academic major.
Featuring courses from History, Political Science and Professional Legal Studies, the interdisciplinary program offers a wide range of law related classes to prepare students for law and graduate school, as well as a variety of careers.
Price Wilborn, a sophomore from Shelbyville, started his WKU journey as a Political Science major before adding majors in History and Legal Studies. He said the programs complement each other and that he has a passion for each one.
“Since early elementary school, I found government, politics and history fascinating. Because of that, political science was always on my radar. As I grew older and learned more, my early childhood fascination grew. When I got to WKU, I knew that political science was something that I really wanted to do, but I also needed a second major or a minor,” Wilborn said. “I did a lot of soul searching and thinking about what it was that I wanted to do, and again, I found history and legal studies to be a passion of mine. When I thought of my values and what I could see myself doing in life, history and legal studies fit the bill perfectly.”
Courses in the Legal Studies program focus on American law, politics, history and the structure of the American legal system. Students learn how to analyze the law and legal system from the perspective and methods of multiple disciplines. They are taught to think critically, write persuasively, engage in primary and secondary source research and analyze those sources critically. In the process, students also gain skills in writing and oral argument.
“When the Legal Studies minor launched in 2010, I knew that the interdisciplinary approach would appeal to students across a variety of majors who wanted to look at law through a wide lens. With the introduction of the Legal Studies major, the lens has become even wider. Students now have the opportunity to study law as a multi-faceted discipline and this major will prepare them for a wide range of careers from legal practice to public policy to non-profit work,” said Dr. Patricia Minter, Professor in the WKU Department of History.
The program may appeal to those who have an academic curiosity about law, public administration, government, politics or law enforcement. Students who want to learn more about history, political science, philosophy, economics or business and those who love humanities or social sciences may also find a home with the Legal Studies major.
Hands-on learning is another important aspect of the program. Students have opportunities to engage in independent scholarship about law and legal systems through research, interactive classroom activities, student organizations and internship experiences.
Last summer, Wilborn began interning with the Communications and Legislative Directors at the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet in Frankfort.
"At my internship, I wrote speeches for the governor and cabinet officials, drafted and reviewed department reports, helped to implement newly passed legislation and much more. I was asked to stay on working remotely, so since August I have been working with the Cabinet, doing the same things I did in the office, just from my residence hall here on campus,” Wilborn said. “The knowledge I gained from the Legal Studies program has helped me to contextualize many of the things that I do at work. I have had the opportunity to watch attorneys and government officials alike do their jobs, and the Legal Studies program has given me the tools to understand many of the things they do. Understanding how the legal system works allows me to write speeches and press releases and back them up with legal understanding.”
Wilborn said a highlight of the program is that it is interdisciplinary, so the courses cover a variety of topics.
“Most of the required classes for the Legal Studies major are political science or history classes. These classes include courses in American legal history, constitutional law and legal writing. Also required are ethics, business law, international law, and law and justice electives. These courses can be fulfilled by classes in a number of departments, from philosophy to economics. Getting this interdisciplinary instruction has allowed me to explore the legal profession and all the possibilities within it, showing me all the things I can do,” Wilborn said.
Wilborn is also staying involved on campus through two student organizations. He is a member of the WKU Pre-Law Student Association and the WKU Department of Political Science Student Ambassadors.
“Through the Pre-Law Association, I have been able to learn even more about the legal field while making friends and connections who all want to go to law school but may want to do different things,” Wilborn said. “I am also on the executive committee of the Department of Political Science Student Ambassadors, serving as the organization’s events chair. As part of the first cohort of student ambassadors, I helped to grow the organization while attending recruitment events and events hosted by the department and the student ambassadors. I get the opportunity to talk to current and future Hilltoppers about each of the programs in the Political Science Department, including Legal Studies. I encourage future Hilltoppers that are thinking about going into law to consider the Legal Studies program because of its wide-ranging curriculum and intensive study that helps prepare one for law school or any other career path they may take.”
Wilborn, who has a few semesters of undergraduate study ahead of him, said he is not yet sure what his plans are after graduation, but by earning a degree in Legal Studies, he will have plenty of options.
“Whether I decide to go to law school or to do government or political work, the Legal Studies major is going to give me a well-rounded foundation. From legal history to international law to business law and everything in between, I will be able to do anything I want to do,” Wilborn said.
For more information about the Legal Studies program at WKU, visit www.wku.edu/legal-studies.
CONTACT THE COLLEGE OF EDUCATION AND BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES
Office of the Dean
College of Education and Behavioral Sciences
1906 College Heights Blvd. #11030,
Bowling Green, KY 42101-1030
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