At Villanova University’s Charles Widger School of Law, the expertise of our remarkable faculty members is showcased through scholarship, media commentary, town hall discussions and lectures. The recent publication of two textbooks written by faculty members particularly highlights the faculty’s dedication to transforming legal scholarship and teaching.
Professor Patrick Brennan’s textbook, Christian Legal Thought: Materials and Cases, co-authored with William S. Brewbaker of University of Alabama School of Law, was published by Foundation Press in February 2017. Christian Legal Thought is the first book of its kind.
“Most of the focus in law and religion is on how law governs religion,” Brennan said. “This book, by contrast, deals with how Christian religion, both Catholic and Protestant, influences how we think about the law.”
Brennan and Brewbaker developed their idea for the book six years ago, stemming from a common interest in how Catholics and Evangelicals think about legal issues. The purpose of this book, according to Brennan, is to use Christian faith as a lens through which to understand law and legal institutions.
Todd Aagaard, Vice Dean of Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law, recently published a similarly innovative textbook in the area of environmental law. Aagaard teamed up with two other law professors—Dave Owen of UC Hastings College of Law and Justin Pidot of University of Denver Sturm College of Law—to develop a different and, in their opinion, more effective way to teach environmental law.
Unlike the traditional “leading cases” approach employed by most law textbooks, Practicing Environmental Law is wholly practice-based, leading students through a series of real-world problems that environmental attorneys actually encounter in practice. Aagaard and his co-authors have found that the book’s problem-based learning method makes classes more challenging and engaging, as students are pushed to develop creative solutions to difficult and complex scenarios.
“With this approach, our goal is to teach students all the competencies they’d learn in a doctrinal course: learning substantive principles, reading text closely and identifying ambiguity and unresolved issues,” Aagaard said. “But our simulated practice exercises also add other skills and experiences that traditional texts do not, such as how to use diverse sources of legal authority, how to incorporate pragmatic considerations into legal strategy, and how to engage in factual advocacy.”
In addition to professors Aagaard and Brennan, several other Villanova Law faculty members have written or contributed chapters to textbooks and teaching manuals over the course of their careers, including: