Undergraduate Certificate in Law & Society


The Law and Society Certificate allows students who have an academic or pre-professional interest in legal education, socio-legal studies, criminology and law enforcement the chance to explore legal phenomena from different disciplinary perspectives. Instructors are drawn from the fields of political science, American studies, anthropology, business, communications, economics, ethnic studies, Hawaiian studies, history, law, philosophy, sociology, and women's studies.
The L&S certificate program is designed to provide an multidisciplinary framework to enhance studies of law within cultural and social science perspectives

Completion of the Certificate

Entry Requirements: You should have an interest in the study of legal phenomena and have a GPA of at least 2.5.


1. Core Courses :

You must take the core course, Law, Politics, and Society (Pols 374/Soc 374) (3 credits). You can sign up through either department.

2. Electives :

You must take 4 further courses (12 credits) from the list of eligible classes for a total of 5 classes (15 credits).

3. Grade Point Average :

You must achieve at least a 2.5 GPA in these 5 courses (15 credits)

4. No Double-Counting :

Courses that are counted toward your L&S certificate cannot also be counted toward your major and minor.

Initial Advising:

Visit the advisors in ACCESS (Dean Hall 2; 956-0661) to learn about the requirements for the L&S certificate. These requirements are also explained in this flyer and on the L&S webpage in the Political Science Department website. Professional advising: The L&S faculty advisors are available to help you think about your selection of classes, your intellectual interests, and your future plans.

Needed Paperwork:

1. ACCESS Advising Certificate Requirement Form: You should pick up a copy of this from ACCESS, or the Political Science Department (Saunders 640) or on our website.

Form Here

2. The semester before you graduate, bring the above form to the Political Science Department (Saunders 640) for verification and signature from Professor Heyer or Professor Hiller. Return the form to Saunders 640 3. Provide the Political Science Department with your contact information so that your paper certificate can be sent to you.

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Core Courses

  • POLS 374/SOC 374 Law, Politics and Society

American Studies

  • AMST 365 History of American Workers
  • AMST 431/HIST 477 American Labor History
  • AMST 435 History of Crime and Punishment

College of Business Administration

  • BLAW 200 Legal Environment of Business

School of Communications

  • COM 451 Communications and Law


  • ECON 476 Law and Economics

Ethnic Studies

  • ES 340 Land Tenure and Use in Hawai‘i
  • ES 410 Race, Class and the Law

Hawaiian Studies

  • HWST 440 Mahele Land Awards
  • HWST 445 Hawaiian Institutions
  • HWST 495 Kumu Kanawai: Western Law and Hawai‘i
  • HWST 496 Kanawai II: Practical Application of Rights


  • HIST 475 Constitutional History of the U.S.
  • HIST 477/AMST 431 History of American Workers


  • PHIL 317 Critical Thinking: Pre–Law
  • PHIL 318 Philosophy of Law

Political Science

  • POLS 317 International Law
  • POLS 367 Disability Law and Politics
  • POLS 375 Constitutional LawI
  • POLS 376 Constitutional LawII
  • POLS 377 Topics in Law and Politics
  • POLS 393 Advanced Topics in Law, Policy, and Society


  • SOC 231 Introduction to Juvenile Delinquency
  • SOC 333 Survey of Criminology
  • SOC 335 Survey of Drugs and Society
  • SOC 336 Deviant Behavior and Social Control
  • SOC 431 Analysis in Criminology/Juvenile Delinquency
  • SOC 432 Analysis in Corrections
  • SOC 435/WS 435 Women and Crime

Women's Studies

  • WS 435/SOC 435 Women and Crime
  • WS 436/AMST 436/POLS 436 Gender, Justice and Law

What else can you do to get the most out of the Law and Society certificate?

Participate in the Law and Society Student Association. Attend our events: learn about law school and professional school, legal activism, legal research, and other ways to combine your interest in law with other studies and careers.

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Please refer to this checklist to make sure you have taken all of the required courses.

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Prof. Jon Goldberg-Hiller
Political Science


Jonathan Goldberg-Hiller is Professor of Political Science. His recent research explores the mobilization and countermobilization of rights in various empirical contexts including the recognition of indigenous peoples and the politics of same-sex marriage. He also researches at the intersection of philosophy and law. He is the author of The limits to union: same-sex marriage and the politics of civil rights and is completing a new manuscript called The Legal Aesthetics of Civil Rights, or, How to do things with equality. He is presently the co-editor of the Law & Society Review along with David Johnson.

Prof. Katharina Heyer
Political Science


Katharina Heyer is Assistant Professor in the Political Science Department where she teaches classes in disability law and politics, social movements, Constitutional Law, and sociolegal studies. Her research investigates the globalization of disability rights: the spread of a U.S.-inspired civil rights model of disability to countries across the globe. To that end she is completing a book manuscript, Enabling Rights: the Disability Revolution that traces the movement of American-style disability rights regimes into European and Asian contexts. Her research also explores the issue of physician-assisted suicide (“Rejecting Rights” in vol. 54, 2011 Studies in Law, Politics and Society), prenatal testing, and patients' rights.

Prof. David Johnson


David Johnson is Professor of Sociology at the University of Hawai‘i and co-editor, with Jonathan Goldberg-Hiller, of the journal Law & Society Review. Johnson teaches in the fields of law & society and criminology, and he does research about crime and punishment in Asia, focusing especially on Japan. Two of his publications are The Japanese Way of Justice: Prosecuting Crime in Japan (2002), and The Next Frontier: National Development, Political Change, and the Death Penalty in Asia (with Franklin Zimring, 2009).

Prof. Kathleen M. Sands
American Studies


Kathleen Sands was educated at Harvard Divinity School (M.T.S.) and Boston College (Ph.D.). She previously taught at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, where she directed the Religious Studies program and was jointly appointed in American Studies and Women’s Studies. Although trained in theology, Professor Sands’ research has expanded into religion and sexuality, religions in American history/law/public life, and critical religious studies. She has lectured at many universities in the U.S., including Harvard Divinity School, Yale Divinity School, the University of California at Santa Cruz, Drew Divinity School, and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. She is author of Escape From Paradise: Evil and Tragedy in Feminist Theology, and editor of God Forbid: Religion and Sex in American Public Life. Her articles have appeared in New Literary History, The Journal of Theology and Culture, The American Indian Law Review; The Journal of the American Academy of Religion, The Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, and in many anthologies and encyclopedias. They cover a wide range of topics, including humor (“If, Ands, and Butts”), tragedy (“Feminist and Theology in the Time After Time”), sexuality (“Sex and Eros in Feminist Theology”), sacred lands (“A Property of Peculiar Value: Land, Religion and the Constitution”), women and religion in the U.S. (“Feminisms and Secularisms in the U.S.), pedagogy (“Coming Out and Leading Out”), loneliness (“A Room of One’s Own: Loneliness as Privilege, Suffering and Opening”) and even an occasional foray into film (“Still Dreaming of a White Christmas: War, Memory, and Nostalgia in the American Christmas). She also writes occasional pieces for online publications, including Religion Dispatches and Civil Beat. Professor Sands has served on the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Religion and on the editorial boards of The Journal of Feminist Studies of Religion, The Journal of Law and Religion, and The American Quarterly. She has been research fellow at Harvard University’s Center for the Study of Values in Public LIfe, and at the Radcliffe Center for Advanced Studies.

Pre Health/Pre Law Advising Center: http://manoa.hawaii.edu/pac/

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What Questions Animate Law and Society?

Here are a few:

  • How does a social complaint become a legal matter?
  • How do juries decide the price of civil justice?
  • What is the consequence of free or affordable attorneys for the poor ?
  • In what ways is law biased towards men?
  • What helps explain the incarceration rates in different countries?
  • Why do so many criminal cases end in plea bargains?
  • What is justice and how is it codified?
  • How have colonized people accepted and rejected Western law?
  • What can we learn about law from film and television?
  • What explains Americans’ change attitudes towards capital punishment?
  • Who polices the police?
  • Is mediation a more effective way of achieving justice than going to court?
  • What shapes beliefs that Americans are sue-happy?
  • How do judges interpret the law?
  • What inspires social movements to use the law for social change?
  • Are human rights instruments enforceable?

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