A Name to Reflect Change

From the October 2016 Desktop News Since 2001, the number of undergraduates majoring in the Department of Criminal Justice has increased more than 300 percent. Last year alone, more than 2,000 students took Introduction to Criminal Justice, and the department now holds some of the most popular majors on campus.

“Our growth is due in large part to the efforts of our dedicated and diverse faculty,” the department’s chair, Dr. Lesley Williams Reid, said. “As the demand for our courses has grown, the size of our faculty has grown, and our new faculty members have brought with them a broad range of research expertise consistent with the interdisciplinary breadth of the field itself.”

To reflect its growth and increase its prominence within the discipline, the department recently changed its name to the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice.

“While the change may appear to be no more than semantics to those outside the field, criminology and criminal justice capture two distinct areas of study,” Reid said. “Having both terms in our departmental name captures the breadth of the scholarship within the department and puts us in line with our discipline’s largest national organization, the American Society of Criminology, and other research-focused departments nationwide.”

According to Reid, criminal justice is the study of the institutional infrastructure that creates laws, enforces laws, and sanctions or rehabilitates offenders while criminology is the application of social and behavioral science to the study of the causes and consequences of crime.

“Perhaps at no other time in our nation’s history have we needed to understand the causes and consequences of crime and develop research-based initiatives to improve policing and corrections more than we do today,” Reid said.

To learn more about the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice and its programs, please visit cj.ua.edu.