Sociology and Criminology

Public Sociology and Public Criminology

Vanderminden class

The Department of Sociology and Criminology offers outstanding undergraduate and graduate education in Sociology and Criminology. Among our strengths includes our Public Sociology and Public Criminology options in the major.

What is public Sociology & Criminology?

“Between the organic public sociologist and a public is a dialogue, a process of mutual education. The recognition of public sociology must extend to the organic kind which often remains invisible, private, and is often considered to be apart from our profession lives. The project of such public sociologies is to make visible the invisible, to make the private public, to validate these organic connections as part of our sociological life” (Burawoy, 2004, p. 8) 

Because we are a Sociology and Criminology Department, we translate this to Criminology as well. In a recent special issue of Theoretical Criminology(Volume 11, number 2) devoted to exploring Public Criminologythe contributors to that volume clearly see the value in supporting Public Criminology. We are comfortable applying the above framework to Criminology for those who are interested in developing in that direction as well.

Public sociologist/criminologists:

Provide a deeper understanding of an issue: In a value free, objective, unbiased manner public sociologist/criminologist use theoretical frameworks and social science research methods to explore the source, nature and scope of a social problem. Public sociologist/criminologist study local, national, and global issues, with a desire to contribute to positive change within society. They may develop policy recommendations or help community leaders and organizations work toward a project goal.

Expand beyond the academic walls: Public sociologists/criminologists expand beyond academia by engaging with non-academic audiences and partners within the community. By breaking down the barriers between the community and academics, public sociologists/criminologists create an open dialog and a mutual educational framework between themselves and the community.

Engage in community based participatory research: Public sociologists/criminologists engage with the community and organizations in a participatory manner. A partnership is formed with research being conducted not just on the community, but with them. CBPR allows input of those being affected by the social issue at hand and strengthens the bond between community and researcher (Hacker 2013).

Disseminate research: Public sociologists/criminologists disseminate research in conventional outlets (peer-review journals, university or academic press publishers) in addition to the broader public (testimony to Congress, or presentation to the City Council). A critical process is making information more visible and accessible to a broader audience. This allows the community to better understand the society in which they live.

As a student you will learn the role and practice of public sociology/criminology. You will engage in theory, research and the dissemination process.

Public Criminology and Sociology provide you with an intellectual tool-kit of transferable skills that allow you to adapt to a sliding spectrum of opportunities. Public Criminology and Sociology students have a unique skill set that allows them to engage in value-free, evidence-based research that contributes to solving a social problem and educating the community.

  • What skills do you obtain as a Public Criminology major?
    • Comprehensive knowledge and background in criminological and sociological theory.
    • Applied-learning experience, capacity building, and cross-disciplinary scholarship.
    • Critical thinking, problem-solving, and contingency planning.
    • Quantitative and qualitative research experience.
    • Research and technical skills.
    • SPSS, CATI, and CBPR procedures.
    • Data analysis collection, coding, and visualization.
    • Proficient oral and written communication.
    • Ability to work with others logically and efficiently in a fast-paced environment.
    • Exceptional organization skills and ability to multi-task.
    • Personal and professional development.
    • Analyzing impacts of policy, programs, and reforms on crime.
    • Evaluating effectiveness of policy, programs, and reforms to offer alternative solutions.
    • Advising and informing policy intervention, prevention, and implementation.
    • Interpreting data, research, and knowledge on criminal and social justice issues.
    • Collaborative, evidence-based research methods.
    • Communicate research findings clearly and concisely to educate publics.
    • Identifying criminal and social justice issues related to policy.
  • What can you do with a Public Criminology degree?
    • Crime Analyst
    • Criminal Investigator
    • Investigative Assistant
    • Policy/Legislative Assistant
    • Sentencing Policy Specialist
    • Correctional Officer
    • Probation Officer
    • Parole Officer
    • Political scientist
    • Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Instructor
    • Sentencing Policy Specialist
    • Program Development Specialist
    • Survey Researcher
    • Affirmative Action Liaison
    • Human Rights Officer
    • Expert Witness
    • Insurance Fraud Investigator
  • What skills do you obtain as a Public Sociology major?
    • Comprehensive knowledge and background in sociological theory.
    • Applied-learning experience, capacity building, and cross-disciplinary scholarship.
    • Critical rigor and statistical reasoning.
    • Problem solving and contingency planning.
    • Quantitative and qualitative research experience.
    • Research methods, procedures, and technical skills.
    • SPSS, CATI, and CBPR procedures.
    • Data analysis, collection, coding, and visualization.
    • Proficient oral and written communication.
    • Ability to work with others logically and efficiently in a fast-paced environment.
    • Exceptional organization skills and ability to multi-task.
    • Personal and professional development.
    • Analyzing social structures, roles, and problems.
    • Evaluating demographic trends over time.
    • Personal and professional development.
    • Community-based participatory research experience.
    • Communicating with multiple publics and diverse populations.
    • Conveying theoretical concepts and applying sociological approaches.
    • Identifying social problems, patterns, and underlying factors.
  • What can you do with a Public Sociology major?
    • Demographic Analyst
    • Policy Analyst
    • Market Research Analyst
    • Public Sociologist
    • Survey Researcher
    • Expert Witness
    • Research Assistant
    • Program Analyst and/or Evaluator
    • Human Resources Representative (HR)
    • Management Consultant
    • Data Visualization Specialist
    • Data Analyst
    • Grants Consultant
    • Program Developer

The Public Sociology option requires a two-semester sequential course offering: SOC 391 is taken in the fall semester where students identify a research topic to examine in the spring semester. This course includes writing a literature review and a research design to be implemented in the following spring. This course is immediately followed by SOC 496 in the spring semester. This is a semester-long practicum (6 credit hours) in which students gain hands-on experience in applying sociology methods and theory by working in partnership with local community agencies and organizations and residents to address, through scholarly engagement, a critical social problem in the area. Students present their research findings at the end of the spring semester to City Council and other relevant organizations, as well as at our annual Public Sociology Community Breakfast Research Symposium.