CONTEMPORARY CRIMINOLOGICAL THEORY

 

Instructor: Dr. Julian Hermida

Course number: CRIM 2301 - 2D

Teaching hours: Wednesday: 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm

Term: Winter

Classroom: McNally East Wing 107

Office: Burke 314

Office hours: Wednesday: 6.15 to 6.50 pm or by appointment.

Email: julian.hermida@smu.ca

 

COURSE DESCRIPTION

 

The objectives of the course are to introduce students to the major themes of contemporary criminology theory and current criminological concerns.

The class will examine the learning perspective, societal reaction perspective, critical criminology, conflict theory, feminism, corporate crime, peacemaking, restorative justice, and state crimes, among other contemporary topics and theories. It will also foster the application of theoretical perspectives to important current criminal problems.

The course also aims at helping the students develop critical thinking, research and writing skills.

 

OBJECTIVES

This course is conceived so that students can:

 

1.      Critically evaluate the major theories and fundamental concepts in contemporary criminology.

a.       Analyze contemporary theories of crime.

b.      Be familiar with the major schools of contemporary criminology.

c.       Understand the basic concepts, methodologies, and terminology used by contemporary criminologists.

d.      Be familiar with current criminological concerns.

 

2.      Be aware of the influence of race, gender, and social class on the process of defining criminality and the process of labeling criminals.

 

3.      Apply sociological theories of crime to a myriad of contemporary criminology problems.

a.       Use the knowledge on contemporary criminology theories to analyze current problems of Canadian society.

b.      Apply contemporary criminological theories to propose solutions to some of the current crime problems of Canadian society.

c.       Critically reflect on media reports and cultural products concerning crime and criminality.

 

 

 

TEACHING OBJECTIVE

 

Deploy a range of advanced transferable skills, such as, oral and written communication skills, the accurate exposition of complex arguments and sets of research findings and the critical evaluation of competing explanations or complex arguments relating to some sensitive topics in contemporary criminology.

 

METHODOLOGY

 

Classroom activities will be designed to encourage students to play an active role in the construction of their own knowledge and in the design of their own learning strategies.

We will combine short lectures with other active teaching methodologies, such as group discussions, cooperative group solving problems, analysis of video segments depicting scenes relevant to criminology topics, debates, and construction of web sites. Class participation is a fundamental aspect of this course. Students will be encouraged to actively take part in all group activities and to give short oral group presentations throughout the course.

 

EVALUATION AND FEEDBACK

 

Evaluation is conceived mainly as formative and feedback will be provided all throughout the course.

 

The evaluation of the studentsí achievement of the objectives of the course will be based on four main components: two exams, a presentation or paper, and class participation/portfolio. Each of the two exams accounts for 30% of the final grade. Class participation/portfolio accounts for 20% and so does the paper or presentation. The first exam is in class and the second one is take-home.

 

Successful attainment of objectives depends mainly on class attendance and active class participation.

 

EXAMS

 

Students will discuss and propose questions for each of the exams based on the topics dealt with in the course. If the questions have a general consensus they will be part of a test bank. The exams will only contain questions that have been included in the test bank.

 

Passing requirements and scale of evaluation: The definitive evaluation criteria for the exams will be given to the students once the test bank has been completed. In general, however, a positive response must be given to the following questions in order to obtain full credit in the exams. The criteria are formulated in the form of questions. All these criteria have the same value.

 

1.      Did you answer the question comprehensively? Are all relevant problems discussed? Was the answer readable and well organized? Did you make connections between issues discussed in your answer?

2.      Did your answer show an understanding of the topic dealt with?

3.      Did your answer discuss problems by reference to theoretical issues learned during the course? Did your answer relate to the issues and topics discussed in class? Did your answer show an understanding of the appropriate readings or class discussions?

4.      Is there a critical personal assessment of the topic discussed?

 

 

CLASS PARTICIPATION-PORTFOLIO

 

Students are expected to actively participate in every class with a positive attitude and to treat their classmates and instructor with respect. Their participation must make a positive impact on the class activities. Students are expected to be prepared for every class. Class attendance is a prerequisite to obtain the corresponding percentage of the grade under the class participation category. Students are also expected to give short oral group presentations throughout the course.

 

Students are expected to create an essay portfolio to record all class assignments. Each portfolio will include, at least, the following materials: (i) a title page and a table of contents; (ii) all the class activities, including one minute papers, small group activities and proposals for the test banks made in class.

 

A major prerequisite for the creation of a good portfolio is active participation in every class assignment. The deadline to hand in the portfolio is March 29, 2006 in class.

 

Passing requirements and scale of evaluation: a positive response must be given to the following questions in order to obtain the maximum grade within this evaluation component. The criteria are formulated in the form of questions which the teacher will ask with respect to each studentís participation and portfolio. All these criteria have the same value.

 

  1. Does the student actively participate in every class?
  2. Does the student show a positive attitude toward his or her classmates, the instructor and the activities?
  3. Is the student prepared for every class?
  4. Does the student volunteer to lead activities, debates or debriefs?
  5. Does the student actively and positively participate in small group activities?
  6. Has the student volunteered for short oral presentations?
  7. Do the presentations show an understanding of the topic dealt with?
  8. Have the presentations engaged the active participation of the audience?
  9. Is the portfolio complete? Does it contain all activities made in class and all required components?
  10. Does the portfolio evidence the studentís active engagement with the activities? Are the responses to the activities creative, original and intellectually challenging?

 

 

ESSAY OR ORAL PRESENTATION

 

Students may choose to write an essay or give an oral presentation. The deadline for communicating the option is February 1, 2006.

Students who do not make an explicit option by the deadline will have to write an essay unless there are some available spots for a presentation.

 

Oral presentation

 

Students must select a topic for the oral presentation together with the professor. Students may conduct the presentation individually or in teams made up 3 or 4 students.

 

Students are expected to research about the topic and to read from several sources for the presentation. The oral presentation may consist of a short talk, a discussion led by the students, a debate among the members of the group or between the team and the rest of the class, a panel discussion, or any other form. The students are free to structure the presentation as they deem fit and to make use of any available audiovisual resources. The oral presentation will last a maximum of 15 minutes. During the preparation of the presentation, students are welcome to meet with the professor for consultation, suggestions and feedback on the evolution of the presentation. Students will have to present an outline of the presentation to the professor at least one week before the day of the presentation. The outline will have to include the equipment needed for the presentation, if any. During the presentation, the professorís role will be limited to listening passively and to providing feedback after it is over. The rest of the class must actively participate in the presentation as an active audience.

 

Passing requirements and scale of evaluation: a positive response must be given to the following questions in order to approve the presentation. The criteria are formulated in the form of questions which the teacher will ask with respect to each presentation. All these criteria have the same value.

 

1.      Does the presentation deal with the selected topic? Does the presentation show an understanding of topic dealt with?

2.      Does the presentation show a clear, coherent and comprehensive treatment of the selected topic?

3.      Does the presentation integrate knowledge acquired throughout the course?

4.      Is there a critical personal assessment of the topic presented? In other words, the presentation is not a mere repetition of the main ideas exposed in the texts assigned as compulsory bibliography.

5.      Have the students engaged the audience throughout the presentation?

 

Essay

The topic of the critical research essay must be selected from the topics actually discussed in class. Other Criminology or Criminal Justice topics need the previous authorization of the professor. It is expected that the length of the research paper will not exceed 10 double-spaced pages. The deadline to hand in the essay is March 29, 2006 in class.

 

Passing requirements and scale of evaluation: a positive response must be given to the following questions in order to approve the research paper. The criteria are formulated in the form of questions which the teacher will ask with respect to each paper. All these criteria have the same value.

 

1.      Does the research paper adequately deal with the selected topic? Does the research paper show an understanding of the topic dealt with?

2.      Does the research paper show a clear, coherent and comprehensive treatment of the selected topic?

3.      Does the research paper integrate knowledge acquired throughout the course?

4.      Does the research paper make reference to class discussions and activities?

5.      Does the research paper follow the style, language, citation method organization analyzed in class?

 

 

GRADING SYSTEM

 

A+: 95-100†††† B+: 76-79†††††† C+: 66-69†††† D: 50-59

A:†† 87-94†††††† B:†† 73-75†††††† C:†† 63-65†††† F: 0-49††††††††††††

A-:80-86†††††† B-: 70-72††††††† C-:60-62

 

The following is a more detailed outline of what is expected for each particular grade:

 

A+: This grade is reserved for student work that not only demonstrates excellent mastery of content, but also shows that the student has (a) very actively participated in all class activities, (b) applied critical thinking skills to the activities, and/or (c) demonstrated creativity in her or his approach to the assignments and activities.

A and A-: This grade is given to work that is judged to be praiseworthy. This grade denotes that a student has demonstrated a sound understanding of the materials, and has demonstrated a moderate level of complexity or creativity in his/her approach to the activities. The degree to which the student demonstrates these skills determines whether he/she receives an A or an A-.

B+: This grade is given to work that is judged to be very good. This grade denotes that a student has demonstrated a more-than-satisfactory understanding of the materials, and has exceeded expectations in all class activities.

B: This grade is given to student work that is judged to be good. It denotes that the student has done good work on all class activities and meets the expectations of the course. The degree to which the student demonstrates these skills determines whether he/she receives a B or a B-.

C: This grade is given to student work that meets the requirements of the assignment. It denotes that the student has done satisfactory work on class activities and meets basic expectations of the course. The degree to which the student demonstrates these skills determines whether he/she receives a C or a C-.

D: This grade reflects a minimal grasp of the assignments, and/or several significant areas requiring improvement.

F: Inadequate performance.

 

 

CLASS SCHEDULE

 

This is a tentative calendar of readings and class activities. If class discussions or class activities take longer than originally estimated because everybody gets involved, they will not be cut short to follow this schedule of readings. They will simply be put off for the following class or rescheduled. Also note that although reference is made to pages and chapters from the recommended textbook, you can read these topics from any other Criminology that addresses these topics.

 

 

#

Date

Topic

Readings

1

January 4

Orientation/Introduction/Bio/What is crime? Chart

 

Key theoretical perspective of contemporary criminology

 

Chapter 1

 

Chapter 2

 

2

January 11

Legalistic approaches to crime

Chapter 2 pages 31 to 42 and chapter 3 pages 67 to 90. Class notes.

 

3

January 18

Feminist criminology: Radical feminist theory. Marxist feminism. Liberal feminism Social feminism

 

Violence against women

Chapter 3 pages 90 to 93 and chapter 7 pages 258 to 267.

Chapter 9

4

January 25

State crimes

Chapter 3 pages 94 to 106

5

February 1

Social Control/Social Bond and Strain theory Labeling theory and Societal reaction Differential Association.

 

 

 

 

 

Substance abuse and crime

Chapter 6 pages 223 to 226 and chapter 2 pages 43 to 51.

 

Chapter 11.

6

February 8

Critical perspectives: Social conflict theory, Marxist criminology

Corporate crime

Chapter 7 pages 237 to 244.

Chapter 10.

7

February 15

Midterm test

 

8

March 1

Money laundering

Postmodern & Peacemaking criminology

Class notes and chapter 10, pages 383 to 394.

Chapter 7.

9

March 8

Victim centered theory

Right realism and Left realism

 

Chapter 12 pages 441 to 448.

Chapter 7 pages 245 to 257.

10

March 15

Restorative justice

Class notes

11

March 22

Integrated theories of crime and homicide

Chapter 8.

12

March 29

Review and distribution of take home

 

13

April 5

Passing in of take home exam feedback

 

 

 

REQUIRED TEXTBOOK

 

 

WEB SITE

 

A web site for the course is available at www.julianhermida.com. Students will be able to consult the course outline, test banks and class notes, and other useful information. All important announcements, such as exam dates, presentation dates, reading assignments, and deadlines for the essay portfolio, are given in class and will not appear on the web site.

 

PLEASE NOTE:


Students with disabilities who would like to discuss classroom and/or exam accommodations should contact me as soon as possible.

 

OFFICE HOURS POLICY

 

In these large classes, it is sometimes difficult to get to know each and every one of my students. So, I would like to meet personally with as many of you as possible during the term. Please come see me during my office hours. I am available not only for class help but also for other academic-related issues, such as writing letters of reference or helping with prospective graduate studies. I want to be available to answer questions for all students. So in addition to regular office hours and seeing me by appointment, I will every so often end class early, and invite students who have questions to meet with me right then and there.