Law as a Social and Political Organism
Fall 2010

BLOCK WEEK 7- 11 September 2010

CGK Atkins

ES 045b

Instructor: CGK Atkins
Office Location: SS345
Office Phone: 210 9433
E-Mail: catkins@ucalgary.ca
Web Page: www.chlogkatkins.com
Office Hours: M12:00-!3:00, upon request

Additional Information

Course Description

This course is the capstone course for the Law and Society Program.  Students will be exposed to various aspects of law (i.e., political lobbying, law-making, law enforcement, judicial interpretations and legal reform movements) in Canadian society.  A variety of guest speakers/seminar leaders (e.g., a judge, a journalist, a public trustee, an entrepreneur, a mediator, politician, etc.) will bring their expertise into the classroom.  They will introduce students to an array of social and political issues that influence the construction, execution and/or interpretation of law in Canada.  Every week, the students will have read the relevant materials prior to class and have written a journalling response to the reading.  The readings will either be posted online on Blackboard or, be handed out in a previous class  Students will thus be able to engage the guest speaker in his/her area of interest.  In every class, one or two students will be assigned the responsibility of opening the seminar discussion in response to each guest’s presentation.  Each day, the students will complete their journalling assignment for the speakers for that day, handing it into the instructor (via Blackboard) by midnight of that day.  The students will write an analytical term paper that has been drawn from reflections in their journal entries and from the materials and presentations of the guest speakers.

Objectives of the Course

The aim of this course is to create an environment in which students can explore the multi-dimensional nature of law in Canada.  As a senior level course, it will show the broad and often subtle manner in which law both forms us as individuals and as a people and, the manner in which we influence the creation, execution, interpretation and revision of law on an everyday basis.  Students should gain a nuanced understanding their own and others’ membership in Canada’s liberal democratic community.

Textbooks and Readings:

Blackboard readings and, readings handed out in class as well as audio-visual materials.

Assignments and Evaluation
Journaling assignments – 40% –  5 DUE daily (average length: 2-4 typed pages, double-spaced) — Each student will keep a journal which will document their reactions to and reflections on the weekly readings and seminar presentations. Entries will be handed in as of midnight via Blackboard.

In terms of format, each journal entry will be in two parts: (i) response to the speaker’s readings, prior to class and; (ii) reflections on the readings and seminar, after class.  Overall, the daily journalling exercise is strongly analytical and they should be referenced to other material and presentations during the term.  Summaries of articles are not acceptable responses.  It is expected that as senior level students, you will bring all the years of your post secondary learning and experience to your reflections and participation in this course.

Class participation – 25% 2 parts:

15% – Each student will be responsible for taking part in the class discussion in response to the speaker (i.e., s/he should have 2-3 questions prepared to initiate the seminar discussion).

10% – The final afternoon of discussion will be an overview of the course and, students will be responsible for pointing out the variety of themes and issues, which have emerged during the intensive week of guest seminars.  They should be able to discuss them articulately and respectfully with their peers.  Students can begin brain-storming about possible large paper topics (which are due later in the term) during this session.

More generally, students are expected to speak in class.  Students will be assessed on their demonstrated knowledge of the prepatory materials; their analysis of the materials; their capacity to listen to their peers and to respond appropriately and; their contribution to a welcoming and inquisitive seminar environment.

Term paper – 35% – DUE 8 October 2010 —  (5% paper topic and preliminary outline, 30 % final paper) Each student will write a 12-18 page paper which draws on the course material and his/her journal entries over the term.  The student’s topic MUST receive approval from the instructor.  (This will be due either in person or via email.)  A paper which is handed in without pre-approval of the instructor will not be marked and, will receive a failing grade.  As such, the student must submit a paper outline to the instructor prior to commencing his or her writing the essay. cThe student will attach the relevant journal material that influenced his/her topic choice when handing his/her paper.


Given the nature of the class and materials, students must attend all classes during the block week course.  Please contact the instructor immediately if attendance poses a problem.

It is the student’s responsibility to keep a copy of each submitted assignment.

Note: Please hand in your essays directly to your tutor or instructor if possible. If it is not possible to do so, a daytime drop box is available; a date stamp is provided for your use.  A night drop box is also available for after-hours submission.  Assignments will be removed the following morning, stamped with the previous day’s date, and placed in the instructor’s mailbox.

Registrar-scheduled Final Examination: NO

Please note: If your class is held in the evening, the Registrar’s Office will make every attempt to schedule the final exam during the evening; however, there is NO guarantee that the exam will NOT be scheduled during the day.

Policy for Late Assignments

Assignments submitted after the deadline may be penalized with the loss of a grade (e.g.: A- to B+) for each day late.

Writing Skills Statement

Program policy directs that all written assignments (including, although to a lesser extent, written exam responses) will be assessed at least partly on writing skills. For details see http://www.comcul.ucalgary.ca/needtoknow. Writing skills include not only surface correctness (grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, etc) but also general clarity and organization. Research papers must be properly documented.

If you need help with your writing, you may use the Writing Centre.  Visit the website for more details: www.efwr.ucalgary.ca

Grading System

The following grading system is used in this course: (Revised, effective September 2008)

Grading Scale
A+ 96-100
A 90-95.99
A – 85-89.99
B+ 80-84.99
B 75-79.99
B- 70-74.99
C+ 65-69.99
C 60-64.99
C- 55-59.99
D+ 53-54.99
D 50-52.99
F 0-49

Where a grade on a particular assignment is expressed as a letter grade, it will normally be converted to a number using the midpoint of the scale.  That is, A- would be converted to 87.5 for calculation purposes.  F will be converted to zero.


Using any source whatsoever without clearly documenting it is a serious academic offense. Consequences include failure on the assignment, failure in the course and possibly suspension or expulsion from the university.

You must document not only direct quotations but also paraphrases and ideas where they appear in your text. A reference list at the end is insufficient by itself. Readers must be able to tell exactly where your words and ideas end and other people’s words and ideas begin. This includes assignments submitted in non-traditional formats such as Web pages or visual media, and material taken from such sources.

Please consult your instructor or the Writing Centre (SS 106, efwr.ucalgary.ca) if you have any questions regarding how to document sources.

Students with Disabilities

If you are a student with a disability who may require academic accommodation, it is your responsibility to register with the Disability Resource Centre (220-8237) and discuss your needs with your instructor no later than fourteen (14) days after the start of the course.

Students’ Union

For details about the current Students’ Union contacts for the Department of Communication and Culture see www.comcul.ucalgary.ca/su

“SAFEWALK” Program — 220-5333

Campus Security will escort individuals day or night — call 220-5333 for assistance. Use any campus phone, emergency phone or the yellow phone located at most parking lot booths.


Whenever you perform research with human participants (i.e. surveys, interviews, observation) as part of your university studies, you are responsible for following university research ethics guidelines.  Your instructor must review and approve of your research plans and supervise your research.  For more information about your research ethics responsibilities, see

The University of Calgary Research Ethics site: http://www.ucalgary.ca/research/compliance/ethics/info/undergrad/

Schedule of Lectures and Readings

A schedule of guest seminars will be posted on Blackboard.  It will be in an Excel document under Course Information.

It is extremely important that students refer to Blackboard on an ongoing basis, as reading assignments and guest lecture appearances may well be adjusted several times during the course depending on the schedules and availability of various individuals.