Lowering the drawbridges: Forensic and legal education for the 21st Century

Carole McCartney, John Cassella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Notwithstanding the significant investigatory and prosecutorial benefits of forensic science, the marriage of law and science has most often been represented as discordant: a marriage of “opposites” (Wonder 1989) that’s “troubled” (Haack 2009). Yet most critics rely upon clich´ed representations or “caricatures” (Roberts 2012) to demonstrate how science and law represent two cultures. When official concerns over the potentially deleterious coupling within the criminal justice system have reached a fevered pitch, the fallout has often been a chorus of disapproval addressed to forensic science, but also denigration of legal professionals for being unable or unwilling to forge a symbiotic relationship with forensic scientists. The National Research Council’s 2009 National Academy of Sciences Report on forensic science heralds the latest call for greater collaboration between the law and science, particularly in higher education institutions (HEIs). To investigate the potential for interdisciplinary cooperation, a workshop was held in the UK, attended by academics and practitioners from scientific, policing, and legal backgrounds. The workshop marked the commencement of a project to facilitate building vital connections in the academy, enabling law and science academics to “lower their drawbridges.” This article outlines some of the discussion to elucidate areas of consensus, and where further dialogue is required before progress is possible, but aims to strike a note of optimism that the “cultural divide” should not be taken to be so wide as to be beyond the legal and forensic science academy to bridge.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-93
JournalForensic Science Policy and Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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