Sunday, August 1, 2010

How Fares Legal History in Our Universities?

Many thanks to Mary and Dan for inviting me. I'm a regular reader of the Legal History Blog and am delighted to be a guest blogger.

I've been reading Martha Nussbaum's new book, Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities (see Mary's post today -- perfect timing!). Professor Nussbaum appropriately sounds an alarm about the de-valuing and de-funding of the liberal arts and social sciences, and even basic sciences, in favor of applied fields that are more directly connected to material gain. This theme was also sounded in a video clip that has been making its way around the Internet (on YouTube, the link is of Professor Eva von Dassow of the University of Minnesota, offering a forceful challenge to proposed cuts in the humanities there.

Within law schools (which are feeling significant budgetary pressures), there is much talk of efforts to promote skills training, and the law school at Washington and Lee University has received attention for its plan to eliminate all traditional coursework in the third year, in favor of practica, clinics, law-related service, and a program on professionalism.

With all of this going on, I'm interested in hearing from readers of the Blog about how legal history -- in the curriculum, in funding for workshops and programs, in support for scholarship and conferences, etc. -- is faring at your institution: undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools alike.

Lacking data, I wonder if legal history might be increasingly attractive to undergraduate programs (because it has a pre-law, professional-school cachet) and less to law schools? But this is a hypothesis formed in the dark. I'm eager for your observations from your various vantage points.

Please post in the comments.