Teaching Law to Laymen: the Case of the Subject “Law & Culture” in Humanities Studies

Padrós, Carlos
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One of the major challenges for the teaching process is to give a course of a given discipline away from the boundaries of your own Faculty. This is the case with teaching Law to Laymen. In 2000 UAB created new studies in Humanities, gathering knowledge of several disciplines (art, litereature, economics, antropology and law) with the goal of educating cultural managers. A new subject (“Law and Culture”) was included in the curricular programation. Initially the contents and teaching methodology of the subject were exported from Law School to Humanities. A new Handbbok of Cultural Law was written and classes were based on passive transmission of norms and regulations affecting cultural policies. Students’ satisfaction and academic results were quite poor. Moreover, experience during ten years, has shown that legal language and institutions constitute a barrier for laymen and that it is not enough to teach legal contents to a new students profile. A new collaborative methodology was adopted in academic year 2011-2012 and a law blog was introduced to help students circumscribe the limits of the subject. Instead of placing students at the end of the teaching process, they were responsible of presenting a topic. Students realise that complex issues can hardly be approached by simple means and that no one has the monopoly of legal truth. Law is used to accommodate pluralistic and complex societies’ challenges and social organisation. The paper analyses: (i) the shortcomings of classical teaching tools for Law; (ii) how a new teaching methodology transforms the content of a subject; (iii) how collaborative work helps motivating students; (iv) the satisfaction survey of students and the academic results obtained. The main goals of the paper are: (i) to present the results of a collaborative learning experience; (ii) to offer new ideas for teaching law to laymen; (iii) to enhance teaching innovation when teaching away from professor’s own Faculty; (iv) to show how students change the perception of a subject when they are placed at the centre of the teaching process ​
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