College of Law launches first online undergraduate degree program

July 15, 2009

An online bachelor's degree that will offer students the practical theory and skills-based knowledge necessary to succeed in today's expanding legal market will be introduced this fall by the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.

The Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies (BSLS), available only to first-time freshman at ASU, is the first such program to be developed and delivered by a law school in the United States. The program is well-suited for individuals seeking a rigorous course of study outside the traditional classroom that will train them as paralegals, legal assistants, and for other careers in the dynamic field of law. Download Full Image

"As part of the College of Law's drive to develop a new model of public legal education for the 21st century, we are transforming the school into a multifaceted legal studies center that educates a wider cross section of the public, not just those who intend to become lawyers," said Dean Paul">">Paul Schiff Berman of the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law. "This online bachelor's degree will make us the only law school in the country with a comprehensive program designed to train the next generation of legal and paralegal staff around the country."

The College specifically designed the BSLS curriculum to teach students to research legal issues, utilize legal resources and technology, and understand the legal process from the perspective of law firms, courts, administrative agencies and businesses. The BSLS is not a Juris Doctor, or law degree, and is not intended as preparation for law school.

Courses to be offered include The Structure/Methodology of the American Legal System, Legal Research, Legal Writing, Technology and Legal Practice, Legal Ethics, Alternative Dispute Resolution and Negotiation Skills, Torts/Personal Injury Practice, Human Resource and Employment Law, Law Office Management and Accounting, Administrative Law and Process, Business and Corporate Practice, and Litigation Practice.

The BSLS will prepare students for careers in the public and private sectors, at home and abroad, and in a diversity of fields ranging from legislative assistant and social worker to court representative and law-firm administrator.

For more information about the degree program or to apply, go to"> style="font-family: Tahoma; color: black; font-size: 9pt" lang="EN">Janie Magruder,"> color="#0000ff">
(480) 727-9052
Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law

Medieval, Renaissance Studies conference calls for presentations

July 15, 2009

Put down your preconceived notions.  The global universe that we live in today is not a modern invention.  It is as old as time.

That, says Arizona State University assistant professor of English Mary Bjork, is one of a number of topics that are open to presentation, discussion and exploration during the second annual Undergraduate Conference on Medieval and Renaissance Studies, “Discipuli Juncti: Students Connected Through the Middle Ages and Renaissance.”  The conference is scheduled to take place at ASU’s West campus on October 30 and is presented by the university’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences and the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (ACMRS), a tri-university research center (ASU, University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University) on ASU’s Tempe campus. Download Full Image

Before then, however, comes the call for papers and presentations, the very stuff of which the fall conference is made.

“This is an opportunity for undergraduate students who are interested in Medieval or Renaissance culture to present their research or project to a group of peers and others,” says Bjork, a faculty member in New College’s Department of Humanities, Arts & Cultural Studies on the West campus.

“Increasingly, students are being called upon to become professionalized earlier and earlier.  Graduate schools and professional programs seek applicants who have demonstrated a commitment to their areas of study.  This conference was conceived as a way to help give students the confidence to think seriously about presenting themselves as professionals.”

The deadline to submit a short abstract of 200 words for a 15- to 20-minute presentation is July 31, and Spring 2009 graduates are still eligible to participate.

Last year’s inaugural conference featured 30 students from ASU and universities in Kansas, Ohio, Florida, Texas and Canada, who presented research on subjects ranging from Beowulf to Milton.  The top three papers were selected to be presented at the ACMRS international conference last February, a practice that will continue this year.  This year’s best conference papers will also be published online on the ACMRS Web site,


The Latin discipuli juncti translates as “students connected.”

“We wanted a name that reflected the importance of the contact between students that is at the heart of this endeavor and the multi-disciplinary nature of the conference while also acknowledging its placement in the Middle Ages and Renaissance,” says Bjork.  “In the years roughly between the 5th century and the 17th century, Latin enabled people who otherwise would not have shared a language to communicate with each other.”

Bjork says the study of the Middle Ages, commonly dated from the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century to the beginning of the Early Modern Period in the 16th century, and the Renaissance, a European cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, is important in gaining a greater understanding of the world we live in today and even what lies ahead.

“Pre-modern studies are by definition global studies,” says Bjork, who is an editorial board member of the Mediterranean Studies Association and is working on a book about Renaissance playwright John Fletcher.  “The way we understand borders and identity was born in these periods.  Many of the conflicts the world is still engaged in today – Islam vs. Christianity, for example – were born centuries ago.

“During the Renaissance, merchants in general tended to care less about a person’s national or religious identity than they did about making a good business deal, even if that business came at the expense of people with whom they shared cultural values.  As we think about the ways in which multi-national corporations function today, this begins to sound very familiar.

“By understanding the ways in which the people of the past attempted to make sense of the world in which they lived, we stand a better chance of making sense of our own times and even, perhaps, of negotiating a more viable and equitable future.”

Students presenting an abstract and application form will be notified of acceptance by August 31.  Once accepted, in advance of the conference each student will work with a faculty mentor who will advise and assist in the development of the student’s project for a conference-level presentation.  Paper proposals on all topics and in all formats, including visual and aural media, or any creative form of research, are welcome.

Bjork says she expects this year’s conference to attract more students, and that she has already received inquiries from prospective participants from ASU and from universities in California, Ohio and New York.

The conference is an outgrowth of a talk she was invited to give by former ASU faculty associate Maria-Claudia Tomany, who is now a tenure-track professor at Minnesota State University, Mankato.  Bjork’s presentation coincided with the university's Undergraduate Research Conference.

“Attending that conference, which involved all disciplines and areas, from the humanities to the sciences and everything in between, inspired me to try a similar thing here at ASU,” Bjork says, adding that ACMRS was a driving force in the success of the inaugural West campus conference.

“The skills that are required to take an idea from its beginnings and through the stages of research, writing, feedback, revising, and public presentation are invaluable to all disciplines,” says Bjork.  “Students who delivered papers at the first conference uniformly reported that the experience had emboldened them as scholars and as future professionals.

“Our main goal, ultimately, is the highest quality experience possible for our undergraduate students.”

For more information, including advice on how to prepare an abstract, visit the ACMRS Web site at">

Steve Des Georges

director strategic marketing and communication, Enterprise Marketing Hub