Science Court Experience and Workload

Science Court is an unusual course, so you may be wondering how much work will be involved.

This is a hands-on course, so not many lectures. Instead students work in three teams (science, legal, media) advised by experts. Prof. Tadmor and Lauren Clatch (J.D./Psychology PhD student) will be advising the science team, Collin Tierney (a lawyer and MN public defender) will be advising the legal team, and Melody Gilbert (independent documentary filmmaker) will be advising the media team. The course will meet once a week on Tuesday evenings 6-8:30pm. Much of the work will be done in class during this time as teams work together with their advisors and coordinate with each other.

Work outside the classroom will depend on which team you belong too. The science team will be in charge of researching the case (i.e. finding the facts) and preparing presentations accessible to non-experts that they will later present to judge and jury. The legal team will be responsible for preparing the pro and con positions and arguing them in court. The media team will prepare short stories in the form of podcasts or videocasts documenting the process throughout the semester, which will be released to the public on a regular basis. Individual students (or small teams) will be responsible for portions of this work — e.g. researching a particular issue related to the case. At the end of the course, each student will submit an essay on their experiences, what they learned, and recommendations for SciCourt for the future.

There will be lots of students to share the work, so we don't expect individual students to be overloaded. Because this not your standard university course, we are careful to monitor the workload and make sure it does not exceed what is expected for a 3 credit course. Grades are assessed throughout the semester (so you'll know how you're doing) and are based on an assessment at each stage of a student's contributions and participation. Since students will be challenged to learn and use new skills, full mastery is not expected. (We learned a lot from the first offering of the course last year, and are adapting how we track work and inform students of their progress on our expectations.)

We hope that you will consider taking this course. Our intention is to build a tool that will go beyond the university walls to help our society shake off its paralysis and deal with complex issues that need urgent attention. If it is anything last last year's course, it will be an exciting, dynamic and surprising semester. We hope you will be part of it!