The Department of Justice and Policy Studies offers two courses of study for students who wish to influence policy and support their communities through public service: community and justice studies and criminal justice.
In community and justice studies, students integrate scholarship from social theory with community engagement to investigate policies and strategies of public service organizations. An interdisciplinary approach allows students to work with other related academic departments and community groups to examine values in public policies, civic activism and strategies for changing organizations. Community problem-solving builds students’ individual and team communication skills while fostering critical thinking abilities. Students explore the processes for building community as a foundation for peaceful coexistence and responsive leadership.
Community and justice studies graduates have pursued graduate study and careers in urban affairs, public administration, law, social work, education and related vocations. Graduates also have undertaken careers in community organizing and in nonprofit community service organizations focusing on mediation and conflict resolution and other social issues.
The criminal justice major focuses on policies, history and problems of the American criminal justice system. Sociological, psychological and political-ideological thought are examined as students explore the questions of criminal justice policy and practice. Sociological jurisprudence and the legal system are considered as instruments of both stability and social change and the study of ethics, justice, discretion and organizational dynamics builds communication and critical thinking skills. This enables graduates to pursue careers in criminal justice fields such as law enforcement, corrections or juvenile justice as well as graduate studies in criminal justice, law, urban studies and public administration.
“There is a strong emphasis on advocacy and community activism. The professors encourage you to get involved in areas you want to see change”
- Sarah Demarest ’09
Experiential learning is a cornerstone of the Department of Justice and Policy Studies (JPS) at Guilford. Students become active participants in the greater community, putting theoretical concepts to work in real-world settings. There are several opportunities for students in the JPS program to test their knowledge and skills outside of the classroom.
The community and justice studies major’s introductory course, JPS 103: Community Problem Solving, offers students a chance to become acquainted with the grassroots movements that mark Greensboro’s civil history. Fall ’11 and spring ’12 students had the chance to take a tour of Greensboro communities and historic sites dealing with issues of social justice. Highlights this semester included a guest appearance by Joseph McNeil, one of the “Greensboro Four” NCA&T students who began the sit-in movement ate the Greensboro Woolworth’s Department Store on February 1, 1960.
In JPS 350: Reclaiming Democracy students are encouraged to think about democracy on a personal level and explore ways in which they can put these thoughts into action. The class brings together community members, students and faculty instructors from colleges and universities across Greensboro. In this course students deal with two central questions: “How do we reclaim our democracy as a humane, inclusive process that is responsible to the needs of all members of our community?” “What does it require of us?” Students address these topics through research, discussion, interactive media and community projects.
For the past several years JPS majors have presented original research at the Guilford Undergraduate Symposium. Past research topics include:
participatory action research study on Greensboro resident’s perception of gangs and street organizations and the Beloved Community Center’s Paradigm Shift initiative to embrace the youth as a potential resource for peaceful, safe neighborhoods
participatory action research study on local police accountability
paper presentation from IDS 410 Power, Politics and Public Schools on significant issues impacting public education in Guilford County
Students have also presented their work at academic and community conferences beyond Guilford College. Recent opportunities include:
presentations of papers and projects by JPS faculty and students at the 19th Annual Conference on African-American Culture and Experience
presentation of participatory action research project on police accountability at the Lily Conference on College and University Teaching
These public presentations exemplify the practical liberal arts concepts central to the department’s mission. Through these opportunities, students integrate liberal arts, experiential learning and interdisciplinary knowledge to address real community issues.