A law student and a computer science student walk into a bar…

… and end up writing a joint paper discussing some of the most pressing cybersecurity issues facing our nation?

Substitute “bar” for “classroom” and you’ve essentially got a glimpse into one of my classes this semester! I’ve had the opportunity to take a very un-traditional law class. It’s called National Security and Technology, and it’s unique in the fact that there are both law students and computer science students enrolled in the class. The class is also co-taught by a computer science professor and a law professor. The course is covering things from the technical and law sides as we explore topics like surveillance, cyberterrorism, and encryption and their interaction with national security.

I took Cybersecurity law last semester with the same professor, so this course is a great way to build upon the knowledge I began to accumulate. I enjoy having the class co-taught as I think it’s a good way to students to think differently and approach problems from another angle: when you’re a law student listening to the CS professor’s lecture, you’re working from the more technical side, and vice versa. It’s also really helpful having a professor from each side to be able to facilitate discussion and answer questions! The final project for this class is a joint paper: every law student is paired with a CS student and the team must work together to produce a paper. We weren’t paired randomly, which is great; there was an online discussion forum where students could post and respond to topics that interested them.

One of the most challenging things I think this class will generate is how to make sure both law and CS are represented in the paper. My partner and I had a great time narrowing down our ideas and putting together our outline. When it came to peer review and professor input we realized that our paper, while focused on a cybersecurity topic, was mainly law-based. We thankfully got suggestions on how to incorporate technical aspects and I think doing so also helped us narrow down our main thesis. I really like my partner and am excited to work with him and learn from his technical expertise and engineering-based thought processes. I’m also excited that I got the opportunity to take this unconventional class! I hadn’t heard of many others that were joint classes and I hope this starts setting a trend at BU law to expand to other joint classes in all sorts of topics!

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