Teaching Criminal Justicew in Liberal Arts Education: A Sociologist's Confessions

Mathieu Deflem, Purdue University

The teaching of criminal justice is typically caught in between a demand for scholarly substantiated instruction on the one hand, and students' wishes for practically oriented training on the other. My presentation reports on my own experiences in teaching criminal justice as part of an explicitly academically oriented Law and Society program in a Sociology Department that offers major and minor undergraduate degrees. Prior experiences in teaching the course and student feedback inspired me to redirect the course and no longer teach it as a specifically sociological contribution, but as a more broadly oriented inter-disciplinary course that seeks to meet both (my) social scientific standards and (students') professional goals. Various innovative, more or less traditional teaching techniques were sued in combination to meet these two, typically held conflicting ambitions. This involved, amongst other things. The extensive use of online materials, selected video presentations, and guest speakers from various agencies across the criminal justice spectrum. Results of a class survey are used to evaluate this experience and draw lessons for the teaching of criminal justice in the settings that many of us face.

(Return to Program Resources)

Updated 05/20/2006