Spirit of the Law: Social Justice Seminar

For rising 9th-12th-grade girls

Sunday, July 16 – Saturday, July 22, 2023

Are you a passionate champion for social justice? Want to change the world but don’t know how? Our Hollinsummer Social Justice Seminar will deepen your understanding of law, government, and policy, from your local school to nationally and globally, empowering you to listen, lead, and make an impact. Get inspired and confident as a community leader and advocate.

Apply Now 

Residential: $1,050
Day (9 am – 5 pm): $500



Courtney ChenetteCourtney Chenette, Assistant professor, political science and gender and women’s studies at Hollins

  • Has a bachelor’s degree from Hollins University and J.D. from Pace University School of Law
  • As a civil rights attorney, litigated, trained, and counseled clients on constitutional questions involving government power and administration, policing, education, employment, and discrimination
  • Researches and teaches political science courses on constitutional law; civil rights; voting rights; American government institutions; and race, class, gender, sexuality, and the law
  • Serves as a pre-law advisor at Hollins

Abrina SchnurmanAbrina Schnurman, Executive director, batten leadership institute

  • Holds a master’s and Ph.D. from Virginia Tech, executive certificates in both leadership and management from the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia, and a practitioner leadership certificate from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
  • Joined Hollins University’s Batten Leadership Institute in 2004, following a decade working in crisis assessment and counseling.
  • Teaches all core classes in the undergraduate Leadership Studies Certificate at Hollins and conducts Executive Leadership Programs for professionals, teams, and individuals.
  • Particular interest is assisting students in growing skills around conflict and negotiation, change, teams, and decision-making.

In this exciting summer course, high school students will engage in an immersive experience in the foundations and practice of law and American government at Hollins University.

In addition to learning the fundamentals of the U.S. judiciary in action (state and federal systems, trial and appellate courts, criminal and civil cases, and the impactful people who shape them), students will strengthen the same basic skills that lawyers, advocates, judges, and law clerks use in court:

  • decoding primary sources of law
  • constructing persuasive oral and written communication
  • critical thinking
  • creative problem solving

We will also observe current practitioners at work; unpack representations of criminal and civil law in movies and television; and hold mock oral arguments, negotiations, and trial simulations.

Civil rights lawyer and assistant professor of political science and gender and women’s studies, Courtney Chenette, will be your instructor. As Hollins’ pre-law academic advisor, she counsels students that every major is a pre-law major because the law intersects with every field of work and course of study: from government to healthcare and medicine, art making to environmental science, social justice to domestic and international business. Find your connection this summer!

Students who successfully complete this course will:

  • Understand the structure, function, powers, and limits of state and federal court systems in the United States as well as the foundational history of the American judiciary and its constitutional crafting.
  • Appreciate the distinction between civil and criminal courts and claims and the unique role of appellate courts and practice.
  • Strengthen critical thinking and problem solving, primary source reading, and persuasive written and oral communication skills.
  • Inspire analytical and creative applications to novel legal issues, challenges, facts, and contexts.

This program includes:

  • One week of remote preparation:
    • Two live digital class sessions (one-hour) on Zoom,
    • Exciting reading and listening materials to prepare, and
    • A one-on-one meeting with your instructor to set you up for success.
  • One immersive week on Hollins University’s campus:
    • A daily itinerary of workshops, learning, and active engagement!

To Apply:

No prior knowledge of government or law is necessary; but this course does require students be creative, curious, and committed to learning, and excited to explore the challenges and adventures of a college academic experience.