The Necessity of Weaving Diversity into Criminal Justice Courses*
Charisse T.M. Coston, PhD
The Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte
9201 University City Boulevard
Charlotte North Carolina 28223 704.687.0745
A primary goal within each criminal justice department is to prepare the undergraduate student to go out and work. National demographics are changing and it is essential that students learn to live in a diverse world (Banks and McGee 2010). The diversity statement is often the only item on the syllabus that pertains to multi-cultural education. As academicians, we need to go beyond just placing the diversity statement in our syllabus. Academicians can infuse diversity throughout their courses. As professors we might at times fail to see who is with us during lecture and those who are lost. What each of us wants to see no matter where we go is someone like ourselves. Diversity should be recognized in its many forms. In our classes we have differences in the areas of age, socio-economic status, culture, race, sexual orientation, religion, and physical as well as psychological disabilities. All of our students need to be aware of others. One of our goals in academia is not only to recruit but to retain students. Recognizing the differences and including varying points of view should be our goal. Diversity should not be viewed as a hindrance, but rather as an asset and as a positive feature. Therefore, it is our responsibility to develop simple strategies for recognizing and infusing diversity, beyond the simple diversity statement, throughout our criminal justice courses.
Some examples of strategies that professors can use in the classroom might be:
- Internships and/or volunteer experiences
- Pre/post testing about issues of diversity;
- Create diverse discussion groups within the class and have them discuss and report on their results surrounding a CJ topic
- And, observational field work in a research methods class used topics designed to teach reactions to and from diverse populations.
Banks, J.A. and C.S. McGee (2010). Multi-Cultural Education: Issues and Perspectives. New York: Wiley and Sons.
*The author would like to thank the following co-conveners at The University of North Carolinas’ Summer Institute for their week long workshop: Multicultural Education: A Research Perspective. Their general strategies as well as the presenters of research data should be acknowledged, particularly; Drs. Gloria Campbell-Whatley; William Gay, Eddie Souffrant and Brandon Medley.