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The Evolution of the Right to Privacy

The political theorist Michael Walzer wrote, “We greatly value our privacy, whether or not we do odd and exciting things in private.” Although the words of the Fourth Amendment have not changed—“the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated”—the interpretation of it and the meaning of privacy have varied over the course of American history. Each passing day, new technologies create new legal questions about what privacy means in the 21st century. This one-day seminar explores the historical development of the right to privacy and key moments when expectations of privacy have been redefined. Through a mix of historical sources, legal cases, and philosophical arguments, we will examine the key debates that have demarcated the boundaries of what privacy means in the United States. By understanding how the constitutional right to privacy has developed, we can gain greater understanding of the challenges faced today by lawmakers, courts, and the public as technology continues to evolve.

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You'll Walk Away with

  • Greater familiarity with the legal and historical issues surrounding the right to privacy and the Fourth Amendment
  • An understanding of how technology is changing expectations of privacy

Ideal for

  • All members of the community—working, retired, and in between
  • The curious and creative
NO open sections available for this course at the moment. Please check back next semester.