By Bianca Chan
The first graduate of Carleton University’s Ph.D. program in the Department of Law and Legal Studies is passing on her experience and knowledge in the field by teaching a course that focuses on topics relevant to all Canadians.
Professor Rebecca Bromwich, a decorated scholar and Ontarian lawyer, teaches Criminal Law (or LAWS 2302V), a course offered both in-class and through Carleton University OnLine. It covers all the basics, from criminal liability in Canada to examining the Criminal Code and the role the Charter plays in the criminal legal system.
“Since everyone in Canada is subject to the penalties set forth under the Criminal Law, and also since it is democratically enacted, we are all both responsible for, and responsible to, the criminal justice system,” Bromwich wrote in an email to CUOL. “This means that my course is about things that matter to everyone.”
Bromwich says she believes law is embedded in its social context, so she puts a sociological spin on her class, analyzing the social aspects of criminal responsibility in Canada as well as the legal dimensions.
“There is a clear and growing body of evidence that the criminal justice system affects differently situated people, especially marginalized and racialized people, differently,” she says.
For a field that consistently changes its geographical and social landscapes, understanding Canada’s current legal environment will keep you up to date with what’s going on with the criminal justice system and how it functions. Since ignorance of the law is no excuse, Bromwich says we are all expected to understand it.
“The system needs people who are informed and critically conscious of how it operates in order for it to function,” she says.
Bromwich has been an Ontario lawyer for 14 years. As a graduate student at Carleton, Bromwich received numerous awards recognizing her academic achievements. She owes much of her success to the university because when she was pursuing her PhD, she says Carleton supported her innovative approach to research when other institutions considered it “too outside the box” and rejected it.
Now teaching where her roots were once planted and have since flourished, Bromwich says she feels inspired by her colleagues and is grateful to be a part of this institution.
“I see the arc of my journey and it helps me understand that my students are on their own journeys,” she says. “I find it quite delightful when I hear of their subsequent life celebrations and successes.”
If you’re interested in learning more about criminal law in Canada with Prof. Bromwich, check our course list for the next offering.