Skip to content

New Degree Program Explores the Intersection of Law, Society and Policy

March 4, 2024

The interdisciplinary integrated learning major offered at the Maxwell School capitalizes on faculty expertise and widens student career pathways.

After completing her undergraduate studies at the Maxwell School, sophomore Stephanie Moon hopes to go to law school and, eventually, work as an attorney. She is interested in criminal justice and immigration issues. 

Stephanie Moon
Stephanie Moon

A new integrated learning major in law, society and policy that was launched by the Sociology Department at Maxwell this past fall seemed a perfect complement to Moon’s interests. She learned about it through a pre-law listserv and is now among its 40-plus majors.

As an integrated learning major, or ILM, the bachelor’s degree program requires a base major. The numerous options at Maxwell and the College of Arts and Sciences include sociology, anthropology, history, political science, policy studies, philosophy, African American studies and psychology, among others. Other base majors are offered by the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics, the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, the School of Information Studies, and the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

After selecting a base major, students who enroll in the ILM choose one of two areas of concentration: law, crime and society in the U.S. or comparative and international law.

Moon added the ILM to her sociology and citizenship and civic engagement (CCE) majors at Maxwell.  “While I am passionate about the social issue dialogue that I participate in through sociology courses, I wanted a pathway to apply it in a legal and policy way,” she says. “With this major, I hope to apply my sociological perspective and utilize the intersections in my internship and action plan that I will pursue in my CCE major.”

First-year student Sophia Burke added the new ILM to her dual majors in advertising and entrepreneurship and emerging enterprises at Newhouse and the Whitman School of Management, respectively. “I have a growing interest in law since learning more about intellectual property and business law in my courses,” she says. “Even if I decide not to go on to law school, I believe the knowledge I will gain through the law, society and policy ILM will broaden my critical thinking and worldview. These important skills will help me gain further perspective on all the societal factors that influence the how and why laws are made, which can have tremendous impact on advertising and business industries.” 

Gretchen Purser
Gretchen Purser
Junior Nadia Lyngdoh-Sommer is majoring in sociology and says she was drawn to the new program because of her interest in pursuing a law degree with a focus on criminal justice and immigration. “I really liked the law focus in the courses, but also the inclusion of an internship,” she says, referring to its 3-credit internship requirement that can be completed in the local community, through the Maxwell-in-Washington program or through SU Abroad. “I like that it's a part of the program so that I can combine theoretical and practical training to prepare myself for the fields I want to work in.”


Nathan Torabi, a sophomore majoring in political science, CCE, and law, society and policy, also aspires to work as an attorney with a focus on LGBTQ+ rights. “This major intrigued me with its focus on how law, society and policy are all intertwined and affect one another,” he says. “For my future goals, it is extremely important that I understand this relationship to make sure the laws I want to implement are inclusive and will stand the test of time due to how society is in a constant state of change.”

The new ILM is directed by Gretchen Purser, associate professor of sociology.

“Within sociology, specifically, there has been a consistently strong interest in courses pertaining to the criminal legal system,” she says. “Developing the ILM was a way to leverage the expertise of a wide variety of professors at Syracuse University and provide interested students with an interdisciplinary curriculum in the field of law and society.”

By Jessica Youngman

Published in the Spring 2024 issue of the Maxwell Perspective


Current and prospective law, society and policy students are invited to an event from noon to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, March 5. Held in Room 204 in Maxwell Hall, it is intended to support networking among those who’ve enrolled and provide information for those who are interested in learning more about the program.

Communications and Media Relations Office
200 Eggers Hall