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Forging a Stable Relationship?: Bridging the Law and Forensic Science Divide in the Academy

McCartney, C and CASSELLA, John (2012) Forging a Stable Relationship?: Bridging the Law and Forensic Science Divide in the Academy. In: European Association of Forensic Science - Towards Forensic Science 2.0, 20-24th August 2012, The Hague.

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Abstract or description

The marriage of law and science has most often been represented as discordant.
While the law/science divide meme is hardly novel, concerns over the potentially
deleterious coupling within the criminal justice system may have reached fever pitch.
There is a growing chorus of disapproval addressed to ‘forensic science’, accompanied by the denigration of legal professionals for being unable or unwilling to forge a symbiotic relationship with forensic scientists. The 2009 National Academy of Sciences Report on forensic science heralds the latest call for greater collaboration between ‘law’ and ‘science’, particularly in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) yet little reaction has been apparent amid law and science faculties. To investigate the potential for interdisciplinary cooperation, the authors received funding for a project: ‘Lowering the Drawbridges:
Forensic and Legal Education in the 21st Century’, hoping to stimulate both law and
forensic science educators to seek mutually beneficial solutions to common educational problems and build vital connections in the academy. A workshop held in the UK,
attended by academics and practitioners from scientific, policing, and legal backgrounds marked the commencement of the project. This paper outlines some of the workshop conclusions to elucidate areas of dissent and consensus, and where further dialogue is required, but aims to strike a note of optimism that the ‘cultural divide’ should not be taken to be so wide as to be beyond the legal and forensic science academy to bridge.
The authors seek to demonstrate that legal and forensic science educators can work cooperatively to respond to critics and forge new paths in learning and teaching, creating an opportunity to take stock and enrich our discipline as well as answer critics. As Latham (2010:34) exhorts, we are not interested in turning lawyers into scientists and vice versa, but building a foundation upon which they can build during their professional lives: “Instead of melding the two cultures, we need to establish conditions of cooperation, mutual respect, and mutual reliance between them.” Law and forensic science educators should, and can assist with the building of a mutual understanding between forensic scientists and legal professionals, a significant step on the road to answering calls for the professions to minimise some of the risks associated with the use of forensic science in the criminal process.
Latham, S.R. 2010, ‘Law between the cultures: C.P.Snow’s The Two Cultures and the problem of
scientific illiteracy in law’ 32 Technology in Society, 31-34.
forensic science education
legal education
law/science divide

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Lecture)
Faculty: Previous Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Sciences > Sciences
Event Title: European Association of Forensic Science - Towards Forensic Science 2.0
Event Location: The Hague
Event Dates: 20-24th August 2012
Depositing User: John CASSELLA
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2016 12:38
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2023 13:46

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