Criminal justice expert presents at the Law Library of United States Congress on Human Rights Day

Professor Sarah Cooper in a law court

Professor Sarah Cooper, Professor of Interdisciplinary Criminal Justice at Birmingham City University (BCU), delivered a lecture titled, Human Rights Day: Science Literacy and the Law at an event hosted by the Law Library of the United States Congress to celebrate Human Rights Day on 10 December 2023.

Professor Cooper said, “I was delighted to deliver the Human Rights Day lecture and share my latest research in the area, which I plan to publish and advance in 2024.

“Deepening our understanding of how law’s systems can both develop and frustrate the science literacy of its agents can help us to reconcile disciplinary differences between science and law and build stronger justice systems.

“I extend my sincere thanks to the Law Library and Birmingham City University for their support.”

Drawing on intersections between criminal justice, forensic science, and wrongful convictions, Professor Cooper's lecture presented a new methodology for exploring how lawyers relate to the concept of science literacy - the knowledge and disposition needed to engage with science – in the context of legal practice.

Professor Cooper explained that the results of such an inquiry could support the development of more effective science education and training packages for lawyers, who need science literacy to carry out key competencies, such as selecting expert witnesses, performing cross examination, and developing case strategies.

Professor Cooper’s methodology harnesses the National Academic of Sciences’ conceptualisation of science literacy, and calls for research that focuses on societal systems, community structures, and the relevance of science literacy to daily life.  

The lecture will be available as a recording in 2024 and is currently being prepared as a paper for publication.

The library serves as the United States’ custodian of legal and legislative collections from all countries and legal systems of the world housed in the Library of Congress.

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