New Dual-Degree Programs Incorporate Public Health and Neuroscience

Two new dual-degree programs, JD-Master of Public Health (JD-MPH) and Neuroscience and Law, address the growing importance of public health and neuroscience as legal and public policy issues. Both programs plan to enroll their first class in fall 2012.

The JD-MPH provides students with an opportunity to integrate legal and public health education, gaining a broad understanding of the intersection between law and public health professions.

“The legal aspects of public health are significant, and there is a growing, critical need for professionals trained both in law and public health,” says Sarah Davis, co-director of the JD-MPH Dual-Degree Program. “The integrated curriculum prepares students for public health law externships and resume-building experiences while they are in school, synthesizing their specialized skill set more efficiently than if they pursued each degree in tandem.”

Public health law is concerned with federal and state power and responsibility and with the proper balance between governmental responsibility and individual rights. Public health practice often draws on a broad spectrum of laws, including constitutions, legislative enactments, and regulations, and has played a significant role in many health achievements, from tobacco control to motor-vehicle safety.

A new integrated dual-degree program in neuroscience and law offers students the opportunity to earn a Ph.D. in neuroscience and a J.D. in law.

“The Program in Neuroscience and Law will train neuroscientists who also are competent in the law and prepare them to address the many important legal, scientific, and public policy issues at the intersection of neuroscience and law,” says Ronald Kalil, director of the UW-Madison Neuroscience and Public Policy Program, which will administer the new dual-degree option.

Even as recent advances in neuroscience call into question many assumptions underlying aspects of the legal system, such as the importance of personal responsibility, courts are grappling with how to handle new kinds of evidence. Neural imaging and other new neuro-technologies, such as brain implantation for therapeutic purposes, may influence legal determinations of competence. Courts are confronting the question of whether to admit results from brain imaging as evidence of lying, and law enforcement professionals are considering using such technology for screening and surveillance.

“These programs enable law students interested in the intersection of law and health care, or law and neuroscience, to prepare themselves to address a complex and rapidly growing field,“ says Dean Margaret Raymond. “They also enable us to leverage the university; our dual-degree students now can call upon the extraordinary resources of UW-Madison to build unique portfolios that will enable them to serve their clients and help solve some of our society's most pressing concerns.”

Submitted by Law School News on November 7, 2012

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