By Samantha Hilyer
For the first time this fall semester the legal studies minor was an option to students, having been approved during the spring semester of 2019.
Professor Bruce Antkowiak, director of the criminology program, stated that in the past few years, this and other minors have been added because of students’ desires to enhance and deepen their education in the field.
“One of the principle points of [adding the legal studies minor] was looking at the study of law and keeping in mind the liberal arts approach to it,” Antkowiak said.
Two of the required classes for the minor are history and philosophy classes, taught by their respective departments.
“It’s important for people who will study law to understand the historical place […] and the rich philosophical core of the law,” he stated.
According to Antkowiak, the legal studies minor was added because groups of students were interested in going into law school or business management, or were fascinated with the desire for social change.
Each of these pursuits deals with the processes of the law, he said, whether that be an appreciation of what lawyers can and cannot do or looking at the context of the law in order to make changes. By adding this minor, Antkowiak said the students who fell into these three categories would be given the opportunity to learn more about legal studies and how it would affect them individually.
Kaleb Wilson, a junior history and politics major, is currently pursuing the legal studies minor.
“The minor provides a great opportunity for me to gain a much better understanding of the law from multiple perspectives […] of history, philosophy, criminology, and political science,” Wilson said.
The legal studies minor also includes two new classes in its core.
History of English Common Law was offered this fall semester and, according to Wilson who is currently in the class, it supplies knowledge about the “heritage of our legal system that other courses do not provide at Saint Vincent.”
The second new class, the Philosophy of Law, will be offered in the spring semester of 2020 and is to provide “another unique angle on law,” explained Wilson.
“Overall, I think that the minor provides a layered approach to students pursuing a legal career that SVC was lacking before,” Wilson said.
A series of previously added minors in the criminology program included three different forensics science minors, one natural science minor, one computer security minor and one financial investigations minor.
“These [minors] were put in to give people a greater sense of three areas that critically affect criminal investigations in the process of criminal law,” Antkowiak said.
The criminology department recently had a minors session with a decent turnout of students, which Antkowiak said is a step forward.
“[The minors] are viable things, I think, for people to contemplate as an enhancement for their major course of study,” Antkowiak said.