Bridge Over the River Qua: Using Simulations to Span the Divide Between Prelaw and Political Science Students

Matthew Woessner, Penn State Harrisburg
Kathleen H. Winters, University of St. Thomas, Minnesota
Kyle C. Kopko, Elizabethtown College


Undergraduate public law courses often attract students with competing expectations. Some students enroll in these courses to prepare for law school, while others enroll in the courses to gain a broader understanding of courts in the American system of government. These differing student constituencies can create a dilemma for instructors. A course designed to cater to students with a general interest in the judiciary may not afford prelaw students with an appreciation for the demands of the legal profession. Conversely, a course narrowly tailored toward prelaw students risks alienating the majority of students for whom this class may be their only look at the judiciary. As a means to promote pedagogical balance and to appeal to varied student constituencies, we profile five public law simulations in this article that engage students in active learning and promote a greater understanding of law and courts.