Prof. Jonathan R. Cohen
Holland Hall 330
OH: Fridays 9:30 - 11:30 and by appointment
Course # 6936, Section # 3521
Can legal and other dispute resolution systems promote reconciliation between the injured party and the injurer? And what about internal reconciliation, for example, when the injurer is unrepentant? This seminar examines the interaction between legal mechanisms and human reconciliation on both individual and social levels. Topics include psychological aspects of conflict resolution, accountability and denial, dialogue, apology and forgiveness, victim-offender-reconciliation programs, and responses to social pathologies such as racism. Readings draw from a wide range of sources including legal scholarship, historical narratives, social science research, and theology.
The books I recommend buying for this course are below. Each has been ordered at the law school bookstore and has also been placed on reserve in the law library. Although there are a number of books, they are of the comparatively-less-expensive, "popular press" type (rather than the very-expensive, legal textbook type). There also will be several readings that have been placed on reserve in the law library, principally of academic articles, that you need not purchase.
Sandra M. Gilbert, Wrongful Death: A Medical Tragedy (W.W. Norton & Co. 1997);
Randall Robinson, The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks (Dutton 2000);
Sharon Rush, Loving Across the Color Line: A White Adoptive Mother Learns About Race (Rowman & Littlefield 2000);
Desmond Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness (Doubleday 2000);
Simon Weisenthal, The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness, 2nd edition (Schoken Books 1997) (Note: Do not buy the 1969 edition.)
The requirements for this course are:
Preparation and Participation. For most sessions, there will be assigned readings. You are expected to have read these assignments carefully and to have begun thinking about them on your own before the class begins. In class, you are expected to participate constructively in the discussion. The success or failure of the class will largely depend upon the whether you are prepared to discuss the materials.
Presenting Your Research. Roughly five class sessions at the end of the semester will be devoted to students presenting their own research. This will be done before the papers are due. The goals are both that the other students learn from your research and that you receive input from them that may be of help in writing your paper.
Research Paper. All students are required to write a final research paper, or, with advanced approval, produce a comparable project. If you would like this to satisfy your senior writing requirement, the paper should be roughly 25 pages. If not, it need be only roughly 10 pages. The topic you choose should require some independent research. Central in assessing your papers will be the quality of your analysis of your given topic.
Miscellaneous. From time to time, there may be miscellaneous assignments.
For students whose research papers satisfy their senior writing requirement, grades will be based 40% upon class participation and other miscellaneous assignments and 60% upon their final paper. For students whose research papers do not satisfy their senior writing requirement, grades will be based 50% upon class participation and other miscellaneous assignments and 50% upon their final paper.
Tentative Schedule of Topics
Day 1: The Human Dimension of Conflict Resolution
Day 2: One Example
Assignment: Sandra M. Gilbert, Wrongful Death: A Medical Tragedy
Day 3: Forgiveness
Assignment: Simon Weisenthal, The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness
Day 4: Apology
Assignment: Jonathan R. Cohen, "Advising Clients to Apologize," 72 S. Cal. L. Rev. 4, 1009 (1999) (on reserve); Lee Taft, "Apology Subverted: The Commodification of Apology," 109 Yale L.J. 1135 (2000) (on reserve).
Day 5: Victim Offender Reconciliation Programs
Day 6: Race (I) – Ambiguity, Denial, Perspective and Identity
Assignment: Sharon Rush, Loving Across the Color Line: A White Adoptive Other Learns About Race
Day 7: Race (II) – Reparations
Assignment: Randall Robinson, The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks
Day 8: South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Desmond Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness
Days 9 - 14: Presentations
Copyright 2003 Jonathan R. Cohen. Teachers are free to copy these materials for educational use in their courses only, provided that appropriate acknowledgment of the author is made. For permission to use these materials for any other purpose, contact the author.