Ric S. Sheffield joined the Kenyon faculty in 1989. Before coming to Kenyon, he served for ten years as an assistant attorney general for the State of Ohio as a civil rights attorney and subsequently as chief of the state's consumer protection division. In addition to his appointment in sociology, Sheffield serves as director of the College's law and society program.
Sheffield's courses examine various legal identities and consciousness, comparative legal cultures and the relationship between legal institutions and other social institutions. His teaching frequently focuses upon issues of race, ethnicity and gender.
Sheffield lectures widely at colleges and universities throughout Ohio and he was chosen as one of a select group of humanities scholars in the state to participate in the Ohio Humanities Council's speakers' bureau. He has published articles and reviews on topics including legal history, right to fair trial, free speech and press, the legal profession, and African American social and legal history. He continues to serve on various statewide policy-making and regulatory boards and commissions.
1979 — Doctor of Jurisprudence (Law) from Case Western Reserve Univ
1976 — Bachelor of Arts from Case Western Reserve Univ
Courses Recently Taught
The colloquium will serve as a capstone, so-called professional seminar (“pro sem”), in which the students will engage in a guided reflection about the field of American studies, focusing upon both content (i.e. American culture and experience) and distinctive approaches to investigating those things considered “American.” During the first half of the semester, students will invite and arrange for American studies faculty, scholars in the field and alumni to visit (both physically and virtually) class meetings to discuss how exposure and training in the field has shaped their professional careers and perspectives. Students will participate in a series of mini-workshops involving research and interviewing strategies directed at their proposed final research projects as well as instruction regarding effective public presentation approaches. The latter half of the semester will involve the formal public presentations of their research projects as well as structured collaborative critiques of each of the presentations given by their classmates. The students will be responsible for writing detailed self-assessments of their work over the course of the colloquium. The colloquium will count toward the units of elective study. Offered every spring as the final collaborative learning experience for American studies majors. Permission of instructor is required. This interdisciplinary course does not count toward the completion of any diversification requirement.
Individual study is an exceptional opportunity available to junior or senior majors who find that the ordinary course offerings at Kenyon do not meet their needs for the major. Individual study may be taken only for 0.5 units of credit. Students must have the approval of the department chair in order to apply to enroll in an individual study. Students must present a detailed reading list and syllabus, including a schedule of assignments/projects and due dates, to the American studies faculty member with whom they choose to work. The faculty member who agrees to supervise and direct the individual study will confirm the syllabus and schedule in writing to the director of the program. The student project must culminate in a public presentation. The overall evaluation is a combination of student self-evaluation and faculty assessment of the student’s performance, both of which will be reported to the department chair along with the final grade assigned in the course. Because students must enroll for individual studies by the end of the seventh class day of each semester, they should begin discussion of the proposed individual study preferably the semester before, so that there is time to devise the proposal and seek departmental approval before the registrar’s deadline. This interdisciplinary course does not count toward the completion of any diversification requirement.
The Honors Program in American studies entails a two-semester sequence of independent work integral to the elective-study program in the major, taken during the senior year. Students enrolled in this course will be automatically added to AMST 498Y for the spring semester. Permission of instructor and department chair required. This interdisciplinary course does not count toward the completion of any diversification requirement.
The Honors Program in American studies entails a two-semester sequence of independent work integral to the elective-study program in the major, taken during the senior year. Permission of instructor and department chair required. This interdisciplinary course does not count toward the completion of any diversification requirement.
This course examines the law, legal profession and legal institutions from a variety of traditional social-science perspectives. The primary frame of reference will be sociological and social psychological. The objective of the course is to expose students to a variety of interdisciplinary perspectives on law and to encourage the examination of law-related phenomena through the literature of multiple disciplines. Topics to be covered include law as a social institution; law as a social-control mechanism; a history of law in the United States; the U.S. criminal justice system; philosophies of law; law and psychology; comparative legal cultures; and law and social change. This survey course is intended to encourage and facilitate a critical study of law in society and serve as a foundation from which to pursue the study of law and legal issues in other curricular offerings. This interdisciplinary course does not count toward the completion of any diversification requirement. This is required for the Law and Society Concentration. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Offered every fall.
This course has been designed as a discussion course with a series of mini-research assignments. The course focuses on the role and contributions of sociology and the social sciences to the conceptualization of law and legal policymaking. Course materials will draw upon research performed primarily within the context of the American civil and criminal justice system. We also will examine some prevalent notions about what law is or should be, legal behavior and practices, and justifications for resorting to law to solve social problems. Through the use of mini-research assignments, students will gain an appreciation for the complexity and far-reaching impact that the social sciences have upon social policymaking and legal policymaking as well as the difficulty of determining or measuring law and its impact. This course is highly recommended for students participating in the John W. Adams Summer Scholars Program in Socio-legal Studies. This counts toward the methods requirement for the sociology major as equivalent to SOCY 271. This interdisciplinary course does not count toward the completion of any diversification requirement. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing. Offered every other year.
This is an upper-level seminar that offers students in the concentration an opportunity to integrate the various topics and approaches to which they were exposed in the law-related courses they have taken. Each year, the senior seminar will be designed around a specific substantive theme or topic; the themes as well as the format and approach to the course will change from year to year, depending upon the faculty members teaching the course and their interests.This interdisciplinary course does not count toward the completion of any diversification requirement. Prerequisite: permission of instructor. Offered spring semester every year.
The Law & Society Program's approach to the individual study course (IS) option is to emphasize flexibility while maintaining the academic integrity of the program's curriculum. The specific details of an IS course plan are to be negotiated between and among the students, faculty members and the program chair. IS courses may be offered within the Law & Society Program upon the request of a qualified student, depending primarily upon faculty interest and availability to supervise the student applying to take such a course. While we expect that a few highly motivated students will broach the possibility of doing individual study, faculty will bring to bear their concept of how any individual study course is to be conducted during the course of the semester. We view this as an exceptional opportunity that we provide our students and, as such, we emphasize that this option is never to be expected as an ordinary course of events. Because we believe that such courses are likely to and should require more than the customary amount of work, student time, initiative and commitment, students must think seriously about whether they have sufficient time within their schedules to pursue such a rigorous undertaking. Faculty considering supervising such a course should consider whether the student's prior academic performance and reasons for wanting to do an individual study suggest that the student is adequately prepared and motivated to succeed in its pursuit. Thus, IS course approval should be seen as the exception rather than the rule. While we do not wish to dampen the tenor of our students' enthusiasm to investigate novel approaches or subjects that are not ordinarily part of our curriculum in any given academic year, we do reserve the right to decline requests for individual study.\n\nIndividual study courses take one of a few forms in the Law & Society Program. For the majority of the program's faculty, an individual study is a chance for both faculty development and, in some cases, a test run of a course that may turn into a permanent curricular offering intended for a larger body of students. On other occasions, the IS course will explore a topic of interest to both the faculty member and the student(s). For these models of an IS course, the faculty member ideally knows something about the topic to be explored, but s/he need not be an expert on the topic. Thus, the individual study can become an opportunity for both the student(s) and the faculty member to become more familiar with the literature, prevailing theories, and methods on the topic at issue. The student will customarily submit discussion papers prior to each meeting with the faculty member guiding the individual course of study. In some cases, this may obviate the need for a final paper at the end of the semester.\n\nFor a few of us, the IS is a type of mini-honors course wherein the faculty guides one or two students through a focused and narrow subset of questions and issues on a given topic within that faculty member's teaching and/or research expertise. At the end of the semester, a substantial paper of 30-40 pages is to be submitted in fulfillment of the requirements of the course.\n\nWhatever form the IS course is to take, individual study is to be based primarily upon the concept of independent work to be performed by the student. The IS is not meant to be a mini-tutorial wherein the faculty is expected to lecture each week on the topic at issue. Each meeting between the faculty member and the student(s) is to be a discussion based upon the material that has been assigned for the time period in question, whether the course meets weekly or bi-weekly during the course of a semester. In some cases, the students will be responsible for taking the preliminary steps toward determining the course of study for the semester because s/he will do the necessary research to determine
This course, a seminar and directed research course, focuses upon the role and status of women within the U.S. criminal justice system. Students will examine the evolution of roles, responsibilities and treatment of women who occupy various statuses within the system, including that of criminals, victims/survivors of crime and criminal justice professionals. We will examine contemporary theories of women and crime, especially a growing body of literature in the field of feminist criminology. Using a wide range of texts, monographs and articles to stimulate critical thinking and discussion about crime and gender, a primary overarching inquiry will be: Does one’s sex or gender affect one’s treatment within, access to, and response from the American criminal justice system? Through exposure to the legislative process, legal policymaking and the tools of socio-legal research, students will gain an appreciation for the complexity and far-reaching impact that sex and gender have upon the social, political and economic conditions of women who come into contact with the criminal justice system. This course counts toward the institutions and change requirement for the major. This counts toward the law and society concentration. Permission of instructor required. No prerequisite.