Criminal Law & Society Graduate Seminar
This graduate seminar examines criminal law as a social institution and as a feature of daily life and popular culture. We study law as a set of social systems, identify central actors in these systems, begin to understand legal reasoning, and study the relationship between law and social change. Emphasis is placed upon developing a perspective which views criminal law as a practical resource, a mechanism for handling social issues and conflicts, and at the same time, a cultural object. We explore the range of experiences and uses of law for lawyers, judges, law enforcement, as well as for ordinary citizens who become defendants, plaintiffs, or jurors. Overall, students learn to identify the tension between the law on the books and the law in action.
Constitutional Issues in Criminal Justice
This course examines the role of the United States Constitution in the context of Criminal Justice. Using a variety of materials and approaches, students learn about the rights of the accused, protections against the justice system, trials, evidence, search and seizure, wrongful convictions, and criminal punishment. Overall, we examine the delicate balance between Constitutional protections and the pursuit of justice.
Research & Evaluation Graduate Seminar
A new required course for our Masters of Arts degree program, this seminar provides a basic introduction to research design in the social sciences, with an emphasis on criminology and criminal justice applications. Students learn the steps required for framing an empirical question and are introduced to a variety of research methodologies through writing research questions and developing hypotheses, using key examples of empirical research as a guide. Students also learn multiple approaches for answering research questions and apply these methodologies in a real world setting. With a focus on a particular area of current criminal justice research, students collect, analyze, and report original data and develop a research proposal that aligns with their interest in criminal justice research, administration, or practice.
Through a sociological lens, this course examines core principles of criminal law. We approach law by examining the purpose and cultural foundations of punishment in American society, with a specific focus on culture, politics, and inequalities. Students will begin to think like a social scientist about criminal law and reflect on this system critically, drawing upon their own ethics.
Criminal Law in American Society
This course introduces the fundamentals of the American Criminal Justice system and the ways sociologists study this system. We study the three major components of justice: police, courts, and corrections; and discuss the ways in which this system is analyzed through criminological theory and represented in media and popular culture.