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College News

Criminology Now Offered at Fisher


Fisher students can now check the “Criminology” box when choosing their major. The major was recently approved by the New York State Department of Education, and, according to Program Chair, Dr. Barbara Rockell approximately 30 students have already made the switch.

The major provides students with a solid background in the core concepts and theories shaping the larger field of criminology. Some of the new courses include Women and Crime, Punishment Perspectives, and Juvenile Delinquency, to name a few. Students will study crime and its causes, related social policies, criminal law, the origins and ongoing development of the U.S. criminal justice system, and comparisons of criminal justice systems across societies and cultures. Additionally, for students interested in advanced studies in the field, the new major will provide a strong foundation for pursuing graduate work and/or entering the policy arena with respect to crime, law, and the criminal justice system.

Rockell said many of the students are interested in law enforcement, while some are interested in the law itself. Recently, she has brought in a probation supervisor and jail deputy who spoke to the students about all of the opportunities in the system, including internships. Her goal is to enlighten the students about all the field offers.

“I want students to consider the somewhat invisible positions, especially in the policy and program analysis areas and crime analysis. Crime is a social fact, and there are — and probably always will be —numerous opportunities in the various fields,” she said.

Rockell herself started in the criminal justice field by teaching college-level history in a maximum security prison. And her résumé grew from there. She has worked for the state as an intake person at the Child Abuse and Maltreatment Register; served as a lock-up/jail/prison inspector for the State Commission of Correction; spent time as director of a unit of staff who investigated “unusual incidents” in facilities; and was a Senior Program/Policy Analyst at the Division of Criminal Justice Services. In 1990, she moved home to Rochester and worked for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, first as the Classification Officer in the county jail, and then as the Sheriff’s Staff Inspector. In 2003, her experience brought her to Fisher.

Even though the major is now official, plenty of alumni have found themselves working in law and law enforcement areas, so the alumni network available to Criminology majors is already strong.

“We really want to provide students with a solid, critical liberal arts foundation as they explore opportunities in criminal justice. This is essential now more than ever, with the dramatic changes occurring in the field, especially technological, and the economic crises experienced in the country,” said Rockell. “We hope, especially, to attract women to criminal justice - they remain very underrepresented. And we want students who listen and think and realize that they are, first and foremost, public servants, dealing with people at what are usually incredibly traumatic times in their lives.”

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