Criminal justice at Seattle Pacific: Explore the new major

What does the field of criminal justice look like when approached from a Christian perspective?

In Spring 2018, Seattle Pacific University announced a new criminal justice major. As a Christian university, our faith drives the way we approach our fields of study. For a field like criminal justice, in a city like Seattle, practical applications are all around us.

Part of SPU’s sociology department, the major prepares students to examine policing, courts, and corrections and how they are shaped by society, race, class, and gender.

“It’s very important that students learn with this sense of mission … of wanting to actually spark a change in the world,” says Instructor of Sociology Raphael Mondesir.

In his teaching, Mondesir hopes to encourage students toward a “desire not to change the world just so it’s fitting to our liking, but that we’re changing the world so that more people could have room in it — to that we can give voice to the voiceless, so that we can create a little bit more space for the marginalized.”

Courses focus on understanding the various institutions within the criminal justice system, as well as links among the justice system, criminal behavior, and larger social forces. Students study alternative approaches to address crime and related social problems, as well as how to apply Christian values and ethical principles to their work.

Students who major in criminal justice can pursue careers in law enforcement, social work, mental health services, or corrections. For graduate work, they can go on to study criminology, sociology, social work, social policy, or law.

Associate Professor of Sociology Karen Snedker says, “The vision of this program is to do criminal justice, but also to be critical enough to see, ‘Where does it not work as well as it could?’ To think about points of prevention and points of intervention, so that we lead to a healthier, more productive, more equitable society.”

“A huge feature and a main component of the Christian faith deals with justice,” says theology and sociology student Ben Crook, class of 2018.

“When I go to Scripture and when I look at the Christian tradition, I see a faith that works … a faith that is in action, and a faith that is putting yourself on the line for others.”

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