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College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Socio-Legal Studies

Socio-Legal Studies Faculty

Socio-Legal Studies

Faculty & Staff

Socio-Legal Studies faculty members bring perspectives from a range of departments: environmental science, media, film, and journalism studies, philosophy, political science and sociology.

Media, Film, and Journalism Studies

Derigan Silver holds a PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is an associate professor in Media, Film and Journalism Studies. He specializes in government secrecy, First Amendment theory and law, media law, Internet law and policy, and media coverage of the United States Supreme Court.

Diane Waldman is an associate professor in the Department of Media, Film and Journalism Studies. She teaches courses in media history, theory and criticism, and does research primarily in the areas of feminist film theory and criticism, and film and social history. The author of several book chapters and essays in such journals as Wide Angle, Cinema Journal and Camera Obscura, she is co-editor of Feminism and Documentary (University of Minnesota Press, 1999). From 1998-1999, she was a liberal arts fellow at Harvard Law School. She currently works on various projects involving popular culture and the law. Nationally, she has been active in the Society for Cinema Studies and is a member of the executive board of the Women's Studies program at DU.


Jeffrey Brown holds a PhD from Washington University in Saint Louis and a JD from Vanderbilt University. His areas of interest include philosophy of law, social and political philosophy, and applied ethics. Brown co-edited the anthology, Philosophy of Law: Classical and Contemporary Readings.

Naomi Reshotko holds a PhD from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and is a professor of philosophy. She has served as departmental chair since 2002. In her dissertation (advised by Terry Penner), she argued that Fred Dretske's theory of desire could be made more coherent were he to adapt his theory to the theory of motivation found in Plato's Socratic Dialogues. Many of her subsequent publications—including her book, Socratic Virtue: Making the Best of the Neither Good-nor-Bad (Cambridge University Press, 2006)—continue to develop a coherent Socratic theory of motivation, and the thesis that Socratic thinking about virtue and motivation can form the nucleus of a viable moral psychology and action theory. She has also published articles on Plato's metaphysics, and she is currently writing about Plato's metaphysics and epistemology.

Candace Upton is an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Denver. She specializes in virtue ethics, ethical theory, moral psychology, philosophy of law, metaphysics and logic. She has served as an interviewee/adviser for a number of local institutions, including KUSA, KWGN, KOA radio, Westword and Denver's 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. She is currently working on her second book.

Political Science

Nancy Billica , PhD Harvard University, gained some of her hands-on knowledge of politics while working as a congressional intern for U.S. Congressman Fortney H. Stark in 1982, and then as a research assistant under Sen. Alan Cranston on the U.S. Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee from 1984-1987. She received a Mellon dissertation fellowship in 1994, and a National Science Foundation doctoral dissertation grant from 1993-1995 for her dissertation, "Just Leave it to the Courts: How, When, and Why Congress Abdicates the Legislative Power." In addition to teaching at the University of Colorado at Boulder and at the University of Denver (since 2008), Billica has worked as a researcher and consultant with a number of public policy and nonprofit organizations focused on environmental, human rights, counterterrorism and health care issues.

David Ciepley holds a PhD from the University of Chicago. He came to the University of Denver in 2007. He was a scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars during the 2011-2012 academic year and will be a Laurence S. Rockefeller Visiting Faculty Fellow in the Center for Human Values at Princeton University during the 2013-2014 academic year. He was a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Washington University in St. Louis from 2002-2004, a postdoctoral fellow at The Center on Religion and Democracy at the University of Virginia from 2004-2005, and a postdoctoral fellow in political philosophy, policy and law, also at the University of Virginia, from 2005-2007.

Lisa Conant holds a PhD from the University of Washington. She is an associate professor of political science and author of the book Justice Contained: Law and Politics in the European Union. She also served as department chair from 2008 to 2012. Professor Conant teaches courses on law and society, international law and human rights, the European Union, and comparative courts and constitutions. Professor Conant has engaged in extensive archival and interview-based research across Europe through doctoral and postdoctoral fellowships at the Free University of Berlin and the European University Institute in Florence, and she regularly returns to Europe for ongoing research.

Joshua Wilson , Associate Professor, has a Ph.D. in Jurisprudence & Social Policy from the University of California, Berkeley and was previously an Assistant Professor at John Jay College, CUNY. Professor Wilson's research concerns the varying abilities of political and social movements to use law--broadly defined--in the pursuit of political ends. Portions of his academic work have been published in Law & Society Review, Law & Social Inquiry, and Studies in Law, Politics, & Society, and his research has been discussed in Time Magazine, The Deseret News, The Guardian (UK), Macleans (CAN), and on NPR & PRI. His first book, The Street Politics of Abortion: Speech, Violence, and America's Culture Wars (Stanford University Press), was released in August of 2013. His second book, The New States of Abortion Politics (Stanford University Press) was released in June of 2016. Related popular media pieces that he has authored have been placed in Newsweek, TIME, The Christian Science Monitor, The Washington Post's Monkey Cage, The Pacific Standard, and elsewhere. His current collaborative research project with Professor Amanda Hollis-Brusky (Pomona College), has received funding from the National Science Foundation and focuses on better understanding how legal education and training relates to legal and political change.


Paul Colomy , Professor, received his PhD from UCLA in 1982. His primary interests are institutional change, juvenile justice, the self, social theory and society and nature. He has published articles on these and related topics in Social Problems, Sociological Theory, Sociological Forum, Sociological Perspectives, Sociological Quarterly, Sociological Focus and Symbolic Interaction. He has also edited or co-edited four books, including The Dynamics of Social Systems, and Differentiation Theory and Social Change. He is currently conducting a study of the origins of the juvenile court. He teaches classes in social theory, self and society, kids and courts, society and nature, and understanding social life.

Jared Del Rosso , assistant professor, received his PhD in sociology from Boston College in 2012. His dissertation explores issues of culture and knowledge in recent debates in U.S. politics about detainee abuse, torture, and interrogation policy. He is particularly interested in the social processes by which political communities assign meaning to their own acts of violence and the suffering that it causes. More broadly, his research and teaching interests are in cultural sociology, the sociology of knowledge, social control, state violence and qualitative methods. His work has appeared in Social Problems, Symbolic Interaction and Sexualities.

Jeffrey Lin , Associate Professor, studies crime and punishment in the United States. He received his PhD in Sociology from New York University in 2005. His dissertation research explored court decisions to incarcerate juvenile offenders in New York City, as well as the impact of incarceration on the criminal behavior of these young offenders. After completing his dissertation, Professor Lin served as a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Irvine, where he studied issues related to the reform of California's adult prison and parole systems. Since coming to DU, he has continued to research issues related to correctional reform in California. He has also been working with the State of Colorado to assess the effectiveness of new strategies of supervising offenders in the community, and he has studied the management of sex offenders, assessing the utility of laws designed to control their continued offending. Dr. Lin has published several articles and policy reports on these topics, and his future research will continue to focus on relationships between correctional institutions and criminal behavior. His research and teaching interests include crime, corrections, inequality, media coverage, and quantitative methods.

Lisa J. Pasko , associate professor, received her PhD from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Professor Pasko's primary research and teaching interests include criminology, the female offender, delinquency and the juvenile justice system, sexualities, and punishment. Her dissertation examined juvenile delinquency and justice in Hawaii, with particular attention on the differential impacts institutional policies and decision-making have on boys and girls. Recently finishing a Colorado Division of Criminal Justice funded grant entitled "In and Out of the System: Understanding and Addressing the Female Juvenile Offender in Colorado," Professor Pasko's current research examines correctional attitudes about girls, sexual behavior, and sexual minority status. As a public sociologist, she is also a board member for the Colorado Coalition for Girls and is performing an ongoing evaluation of InterCept, a girl offender intervention program in Colorado Springs. She is co-author of The Female Offender: Girls, Women and Crime, and other articles that explore issues of girls and juvenile justice. Professor Pasko's courses include Criminology, Discipline and Punishment, the Female Offender, Masculinities and Murder in America.

Scott Phillips , associate professor, received his PhD in sociology from the University of Georgia in 2000. His research examines capital punishment and conflict management. Focusing on the arbitrary administration of the death penalty in Houston, his recent research has been featured in several media outlets, including: New York Times, Houston Chronicle, Dallas Morning News, Mother Jones, and the Death Penalty Information Center.

Nancy Reichman , professor, received her BA from New College in Sarasota Florida, MPA from New York University, and PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and has been at the University of Denver since 1984. Previous administrative positions include serving as chair of the Department of Sociology and Criminology and as interim director of the Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Denver. She teaches courses in criminology, complex organizations, women and public policy, and law and society. She is the co-author of Gender Penalties (with Joyce Sterling and Cathlin Donnell), a study of pay inequity between male and female attorneys. This study is being extended in a project, "Partners on the Periphery," that examines the effects of social capital in the development of careers. She completed a book, Ozone Connections (with Penelope Canan) that examines the social organization of expertise to implement global environment agreements. A final project examines the growth of multidisciplinary professional practice and the emerging contest over legal and business advice. Her articles cover a range of topics from understanding regulatory regimes to insurance fraud and white collar crime. Professor Reichman currently serves as co-editor of the Law and Policy journal.