University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Stephen Arons

Stephen Arons

Professional Title: 

Professor Emeritus of Legal Studies


Office Hours: 

Before and after Class


Stephen Arons is Professor Emeritus of Legal Studies at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He received his B.A. in American Civilization from the University of Pennsylvania and his J.D. from Harvard. He has written extensively in professional and popular journals, and was for a time Contributing Editor at the Saturday Review. His fields of expertise include the constitutional dimensions of public education policy, an area in which he has written numerous articles and two books, Compelling Belief: the Culture of American Schooling (1986), an exploration of individual and cultural freedom in education; and Short Route to Chaos (1997), a critique of standardized schooling. Arons is a co-author of all eight editions of the textbook, Before the Law. Professor Arons worked for over twenty-five years in the field of mental health policy and individual rights, and is co-author (with Herr and Wallace) of Legal Rights and Mental Health Care (1983). He was one of the founders and was for twenty years President of the Board of Directors of the Center for Public Representation, a non-profit public interest law firm that specializes in disability law. Arons has also done considerable work in the struggle for racial justice. For over a decade he was coordinator with attorney Jerrold Levinsky of the Legal Studies/Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination Joint Clinical Project, a groundbreaking program that provided extensive coursework and a full-time clinical placement for undergraduates training in the analysis and enforcement of civil rights law. Professor Arons continues to be engaged in research, writing and teaching about the legal and constitutional dimensions of end-of-life care. He remains a faculty member of the Smith Social Work School/Baystate Medical program for training social workers in End-of-Life care issues. His article, “Current Legal Issues in End of Life Care,” appears in Living With Dying: A Handbook for End-of-Life Healthcare Practitioners (Berzoff & Silverman, eds. 2004). His work in this area also includes “Palliative Care in the U.S. Healthcare System: Constitutional Right or Criminal Act?” in 29 WNEC L.R. 309 (2007), and “Economic Parameters of End-of-Life Care: Some Policy Implications in an Era of Health Care Reform,” in 31 WNEC L.R. 305 (2009) with economist Michael Ash. Arons' regular teaching has included Law and Culture in America, Law and Public Policy, Law and Conscience, Dynamics of Law and Race, and the use of literature to teach law and ethics. Arons has done numerous humanities seminars for judges, healthcare professionals and others as a member of the Core Faculty of the Brandeis International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life. He is a certified mediator, and a member of the Massachusetts and Federal District Court Bars. He returns to part-time Legal Studies teaching in the Political Science Department as of spring, 2012.


  • Legal Studies