Sociology & Justice Studies  
Mission of Justice Studies

The mission of the Justice Studies program is to analyze issues of justice and injustice within the societal contexts of human behavior in complex societies. Using interdisciplinary perspectives students critically examine the manifestation of this behavior through a Criminology perspective. Students are expected to develop an ethical awareness and the aptitude to decisively research a broad base of knowledge on issues of justice, crime and the law.

The mission of the Criminology concentration is to offer a curriculum that seeks to understand the social nature of crime so as to develop rationale policies. In addition to studying courts, corrections, and law enforcement, students are expected to examine the law as a social product affected by cultural values, race, gender, class or sexuality. They are expected to critically examine and assess the consequences of criminal behavior through the victim's and community's lenses, as well as the offender and the judicial system.

Criminology focuses on individual crimes but also more keenly addresses the social nature and implications of crime. The department emphasizes the effects of race, gender, class or sexuality on criminal behavior. Criminology integrates academic, applied and theoretic scholarship. While applied criminology addresses the practices of the criminal justice system, academic and theoretical criminology address the following:

– The origins, nature and application of criminal laws; Criminologists examine law as socially produced, thus, reflecting cultural values and social realities.
– The nature and causes of criminal behavior: Criminologists argue that it is important to understand the causes and motivations for crime in order to present information to inform policymakers about reform measures.
– The exploration and evaluation of the various agencies that apprehend and treat offenders.
– The societal responses to crime.
– Victimology and the roles/experiences of victims. Victimology, the study of crime victims, is considered to be the “mirror image” of criminology.

Students Reflect on Justice Studies Major

"My time at Oklahoma City University has been more than an education due to the Justice Studies/Sociology department. I was fostered as a true professional throughout my time here at this university. I feel more than confident about continuing on into law school and, ultimately, my career. The professors all pushed me to be the best student I was capable of, all the while developing my character holistically. It has been great to be a student of this department and look forward to utilizing my skills often."
– Spring 2012 Graduate, Karen Aguilar

"I graduated with my B.S. in OCU Justice Studies, I didn't realize how prepared I was for graduate school until half way through the semester and I realized how much my undergraduate education really prepared me for analysis and evaluation in graduate courses. – Fall 2011 Graduate

"The faculty at OCU in the Justice Studies department does a phenomenal job at caring for students and their needs and working well with them to prepare for furthering education and future job opportunities."  Derek Peperas 2012 Graduate, now student in M.A. in Applied Sociology-Nonprofit Leadership

Why "Justice Studies" not "Criminal Justice"

You may wonder, what happened to "criminal justice." What is Justice Studies? Well, according to John Crank in Imagining Justice (2003) and many other scholars of justice education, Justice Studies is the natural evolution of criminal justice in the academy. Criminal justice is about courts, corrections, and law enforcement. Criminology is about the etiology of crime – why individuals commit crime. And, Justice Studies is the 21st-century critical response to all of the above. That is, we view students of Justice Studies to be the future decision-makers of tomorrow.

Our students learn what is, but also have the skills and creativity to envision what could be – a better approach, a better solution, an improved criminal justice system. Our students develop critical thinking skills, the ability to read and conduct research, and an understanding of the "big picture." We learn about prisons by going there, listening to guards, wardens, and inmates. Working with the present system, we are always after improvement. Be part of an engaging, cutting edge program!