Professor John Bronsteen applies the findings of hedonic psychology to civil settlement, criminal punishment, and regulatory decision-making. His recent book, Happiness and the Law, draws on new research in neuroscience and economics on how the law affects people’s quality of life.
What is your favorite part about teaching law?
That's easy –the students. It's a privilege to get to know a new group of amazingly talented and enthusiastic people each year. And it's thrilling for me to see how much they learn in the first year, and the rapid development in their thinking, speaking, and writing.
What are the advantages of earning a JD at Loyola?
First of all, each student gets to meet so many wonderful fellow classmates; and the quality of those students is well-known, especially in the Chicago area, so there's a terrific network of alumni. And second, I think the faculty and staff at Loyola are truly caring and want to help students have a great experience.
What do you like best about teaching students in the part-time program?
They're dedicated and organized, and they bring real-world knowledge to the class. One of my most memorable experiences was going for an on-duty "ride-along" with a police officer who was a student of mine in the part-time program.
How did you become interested in hedonic psychology?
I wanted to learn what makes people happy, and when I started to read the research on it, I realized how many applications to law there were. After all, the underlying purpose of law is to improve people's lives.
What will students find most interesting about your criminal law course?
The most basic goal of law is arguably to stop people from doing things like killing one another. So the subject matter of criminal law is not technical but familiar, and its significance is readily apparent. My version of the course focuses on active learning and on developing skills that students will use as lawyers. In particular, they learn to apply statutory law to new fact patterns and, in their writing, to pay careful attention to the minutest details.
Is law really happy?
Law is supposed to help people. So if you want to understand how well laws are working, you need to understand how they affect people and to what extent they improve people's lives. The happiness studies make it possible to learn a lot more about that than was previously possible.
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Dean and Professor of Law
“I love seeing the incredible joy in my students when they experience an a-ha moment.”MORE
Professor of Law
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Professor of Law
“If you want to understand how well laws are working, you need to understand how they affect people.”MORE