CCJ 1020- Request to add to Social Sciences Gen Ed

The CCC would like your feedback on the request to place CCJ 1020 into the Institutional hours of General Education within the Social Science division.  Below is the Opt-In Template with the assessment information and rationale.

General Education Opt-In Template

Preamble: This template is required for all courses opting into General Education. Please fill it out and submit it to Krissy Brissett by the October CCC agenda deadline, so that the CCC members can review your request at the November CCC meeting.


Division: _____ Communications _____Humanities _____Math _____ Science ____X_ Social Science____ / Discipline___Criminal Justice

Course Title: Criminal Justice in the United States

Course Prefix:     CCJ                       Course Number: 1020                                                 Current Completed Course Outline: _____Yes (attach) _____ No


Gen Ed Principles: Does this course, when added to the Gen Ed Program:

Contribute Significantly to the Gen Ed Outcomes Satisfy the mission of the College Rely on a specific faculty member for instruction Focus on a specific occupation Transfer to an upper division program Have a prerequisite that is not a Gen Ed course
Yes No Yes No Yes No Yes No Yes No Yes No

Assessment of Gen Ed Outcomes: Please select both a primary and secondary contribution and provide a bulleted list of how you will assess for the outcomes.

Gen Ed Outcomes Cultural and Historical Understanding Quantitative




Interpersonal Communication Oral Communication Written Communication Ethical Responsibility Information Literacy Critical Thinking
Primary contribution Yes Yes Yes
Secondary contribution

Narrative of Contribution to Gen Ed:

This course will contribute to the general education requirements by developing in students’ a greater sense of ethical responsibility, information literacy, and written communication skills. Additionally, students taking this course will develop a greater understanding of the philosophical foundation for a criminal justice system, understand the history of policing in America, understand and recognize how to exercise their constitutional rights in the criminal justice process, understand the competing philosophies that support different forms of sanctions, and be able to critically assess the ethical, moral, and legal legitimacy of the criminal justice system as a whole.

Legitimacy in the criminal justice system is critical for a democratic, free market society to flourish. Without legitimacy, government authority is weakened and vigilantism increases, not just in the cruder forms we associate with tit-for-tat retaliation, but in its extreme form, vigilantism can devolve into a completely alternate layer of extra-legal justice. This may sound a bit outrageous in the United States, but it is not far from the truth in some communities. In extremely poor, crime ridden communities, where the disenfranchised, poor, homeless, and mentally ill reside, street justice is often recognized as the only legitimate form of justice. Though this extra-legal justice may not always be “just”, it is nonetheless, swift and certain. Unfortunately, this form of “street” justice is anathema to a nation that promotes the rule of law.

It is important to understand that in the United States, many people question the legitimacy of the police and the criminal justice system. The reasons vary, but for groups who have experienced a disproportionate number of contacts with the police (e.g., the poor, the young, minorities, the mentally ill, and men), that were negative or were perceived as harassing, trust in the police within those populations is low, and the perceived legitimacy of the police is weak. These sentiments regarding the police are consistently reaffirmed in Gallup polls, which show that minorities are more distrustful of the police than non-minorities. As we have seen in recent months, these sentiments have been on full display in the media as protestors have taken to the streets to protest real and/or perceived police mistreatment of minorities. It may be easy to write off these protests as simply a fad, but these protests are actually part of a larger cycle of protests. Eventually, it is not inconceivable to believe that the protests and distrust in the police and the criminal justice system will no longer be episodic, but rather the normal condition of a fragmented and conflicted society.

This idea to add Criminal Justice in the United States as a social science general education course came to me after speaking to several leaders within the criminal justice community in Central Florida, as well as from my own observations. From the criminal justice practitioners, I heard exasperation in their voices about the public’s perceived ignorance of the dangers faced by the police, as well as a lack of understanding of the complexities and imperfections within the criminal justice system as a whole. In the minds of the police, changes need to occur in two directions. The police recognize that reform is needed, but they also feel the public needs to become more aware of the strengths, weaknesses, and idiosyncrasies of the criminal justice system in the United States, and the larger social forces that contribute to crime. Sadly, most people have very little contact with the police. For those who do, their contact may be one-dimensional and not representative of policing in general or the criminal justice system. Likewise, for most people, the impressions they have of the police are informed by social media, various news sources, and from friends…most of which are skewed, politicized, incorrect, or misinformed. Bad information damages the legitimacy of the police more than a single bad contact with the police, because it multiples that contact a million times.

4 Responses to “CCJ 1020- Request to add to Social Sciences Gen Ed”

  1. Carl E Creasman Jr

    Well, while I fully understand the sentiment of dealing with excess student hours as well perhaps the hope that such a class could be a benefit a student in dealing with criminal justice, I am opposed to adding this to Social Science hours. Obviously dealing with the state’s restrictions relative to hours and the fear of the penalty to students who go over hours, above 120, is difficult. However, taking one program’s challenge and then shifting it to become the challenge of another program or area is not a fair result. If it were up to me, students would take 15 hours of Social Science (one each from Psych, Econ, History, Poly Sci and Sociology), beyond the other requirements. However, we can’t do that due to fairness and balance…however, I don’t then decide to somehow shift my desired course to some other area in Gen Ed or other program just because I deeply value what I want to see taught. All programs are limited in this way, and it should be criminal justice’s plan to figure out what other courses within their own area that they will shift, change or eliminate to meet the state’s hour requirement. It’s a harsh and tough situation…just as it is for every other program.

    At the same time, I feel as if this idea is something of a snub; General Education, and Social Science in specific, is not some random vague dumping ground where courses can just be inserted. To do so, to me, ends up sounding a lot like a statement of “Social Science obviously isn’t all that important…we can just put any old subject or class in there.” With that logic, the explanation paragraphs could just as easily fit into Humanities…so let’s take 3 of their hours. Or heck, let’s make sure they give a few speeches and we’ll add it to the Communication Institutional Hours. Or, since it is related to science, let’s just make it a Science course.

    No…those aren’t good answers. Again, I appreciate the frustration of having wonderful classes and topics that someone wants to teach students. Sadly, we are limited by the state. But, all programs are limited so and each must figure out their ways to deal with the limitations within their program….not merely shift their desired course to some other area.

  2. Anthony Beninati

    CCJ 1020 would be a very timely and appropriate addition to the Social Sciences Gen Ed area due to its breadth of scope and solid inter-disciplinary application. I don’t see the Course Outline attached herein.

  3. Melonie Sexton

    I find that there are a couple of issues with placing this class within the Institutional hours for the Social Sciences.

    1. Criminal Justice and its associated topics are not considered a social science. I think that is the biggest and most obvious problem at hand. A social science is a field that studies society and human behavior. Studying the role of law enforcement in society is too narrow of a concept. To be a social science, one has to have questions broadly relating to groups of people and their behavior as a whole. Psychology – the study of the human mind and behavior. Anthropology – the study of mankind, history, and culture. Even Economics makes a better case for being classified as a social science- it is the study of human decision-making and the factors that influence those behaviors within a consumerist market. ​

    2. Since Criminal Justice is not a social science, I am left wondering, what is the scientific purpose of this topic? Or in other words, what are the research questions and methodologies being taught? In a true social science, we learn how the scientific method is applied to each field’s theories and hypotheses. What are the hypotheses of Criminal Justices studies? What research methodology is employed to answer the relevant questions? Instead, to me, it seems like this class took the methodologies of other social sciences (psychology, political science, sociology) and paired them with a pro-law enforcement pedagogy.

    3. If we allow a class as specific as this to be added to the Gen Ed curriculum, we risk opening the door for ANY class of personal interest to be included. Is understanding the need for law enforcement important? Yes, absolutely. However, this class seems to have an underlying agenda. I wonder if this class would include teachings about views that may be in direct opposition with its educators. Furthermore, just because there is a current social debate happening in our nation does not mean we should create a class for that issue and offer it as a social science just to reach a greater audience. Again, that would set the precedent for a number of other courses to come in and essentially dilute what is truly a social science class. By taking a specific topic from another field and adding a spin of “society” insults the true nature of the social sciences.

    Allow me explain my point further with a specific example: I believe that the issue of drug vaccination is a huge and relevant topic within today’s society. We have diseases that were essentially eradicated making a comeback because parents either don’t have the proper education about medicine or they willfully chose to ignore the research. What’s to stop me from designing a course that studies the importance of vaccines in society and adding it to the curriculum? My class could look at the biological factors involved in creating vaccines and then we can elaborate on how they are applied in society. We could discuss the societal benefit to having “herd immunity”. We could discuss the psychological ramifications of not being vaccinated and how that might affect your development. I could go on, but my point is this- does this class now count as a social science? Or is it simply a natural science course touching on a few aspects of social science?


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