Sociology Department Announces New Criminology Major

Dr. Novich with law enforcement officers who came to speak with one of her classes. MADELEINE NOVICH/COURTESY

By Jocelyn Visnov, Editor-in-Chief

The sociology department will soon expand to offer a new bachelor’s degree in criminology, beginning next fall. The new 33-credit major offered within the School of Liberal Arts will expand on the criminology concentration currently offered as one of several tracks within the sociology major.
The creation of the new major was spearheaded by Assistant Professor Madeleine Novich, Ph.D, who serves as the director of criminology and criminal justice programs.

“I came to Manhattan College in 2008.” Novich said. “And my team and I developed a number of criminal justice classes, specifically Modern American Gangs, Mass Incarceration and Collateral Consequences and Ethics of the Criminal Justice system to name a few.”

The current sociology department will become newly dubbed as the “Sociology and Criminology” department upon receiving board approval for the new major. The idea for a second major within the department stemmed an increased interest in classes surrounding the criminal justice system by MC students.

“Anytime I started teaching new classes they would fill up to capacity,” Novich said. “And so we as a department recognized that this was a topic that the students really wanted, and they wanted to major in it. Sociology is a fantastic major, but really the students indicated that there should be a criminology major as well. And this also makes us more competitive, like most schools that have criminology majors.”

The department currently offers three tracks of study within the sociology major as well as a 15-credit minor. The concentrations offered within the major include geography, social services and criminology. When the new major becomes official the department will no longer offer the concentration in criminology.

“We’re going to be phasing out the concentration, so you can either major in sociology or criminology,” Novich said. “I think a lot of people will end up double majoring because the tracks between criminology and sociology are very similar. But by doing a strict Criminology major, it allows for students to be required to take criminological theory, which they wouldn’t have to take before, and do criminal justice related research. And so this is what differentiates in a couple of ways, there’s much more theoretical training in criminology than is required with sociology.”

Classes offered as part of the criminology major will also be cross-listed with other classes surrounding social and criminal justice which are currently taught by MC. The sociology department hopes to eventually expand their staff in order to teach additional courses that are specific to the study and research of criminology and the criminal justice system.

An article written by David Koeppel on the schools website stated that “The curriculum will be embedded in the Lasallian principles of excellence in teaching, respect for human dignity, reflection on faith, an emphasis on ethical conduct, and a commitment to social justice.”

Richard Divirgilio is a senior double majoring in sociology and psychology. Having taken a plethora of sociology classes during his time at MC, he expressed his admiration for the department.
“My favorite part of the sociology department is how every professor I have ever had has challenged and ultimately expanded the way that I think about the world,” Divirgilio wrote. “They try to make the class material interesting and grounded in current events.”

The sociology and criminology majors will prepare undergraduate students for a number of potential career paths in fields such as law enforcement, social work and civil service. Sociology and criminology students may also decide they want to pursue a graduate program in any of these fields.
Jake Delfel, a senior sociology major who hopes to eventually attend law school following his graduation from MC, explained his hopes for the department’s expansion.

“I think the addition of the criminology major will cause a lot more traffic within the sociology department as a whole,” he wrote. “Especially for those who may want to enter some form of law or law enforcement (among other things) will probably declare it as a major. So, I have no doubt it will be successful.”

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