The University of Pennsylvania’s schools of law and engineering and applied science are offering a new joint degree program aimed at helping new lawyers and engineers deal with issues that cross both areas, the university announced Tuesday.
“A cross-disciplinary approach is critical to preparing law graduates trained to tackle a burgeoning set of complex issues involving technology and the law,” Penn Law Dean Michael A. Fitts said in a prepared statement. “In patents, copyright, media and Internet regulation, privacy and national security and many other areas, today's problems are almost always more than just legal problems and require substantive understanding of how the technology works.”
Penn cited the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on patentability of human genes, the controversy over the National Security Agency’s surveillance program and regulation of the internet as issues that require knowledge in both areas.
The program, awarding students both a master’s in engineering and juris doctor degree, will be open to students beginning in fall 2014. Students typically will spend their first year at the law school and second year at the engineering school. In the third and fourth years, they will take classes at both schools, as well as a class co-taught by faculty from both schools.