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Criminology and Criminal Justice Program Wins National Award

02/08/2019

Saint Louis University’s Criminology and Criminal Justice (CCJ) will be honored for its education and advocacy work in 2018 with the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences’s (ACJS) “Program of the Year” Award. It is the first time SLU’s program has won the national honor.

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SLU's Criminology and Criminal Justice Program (CCJ) has been lauded as the "Program of the Year" by one of the nation's preeminent criminology and criminal justice professional associations. Photo by Ellen Hutti

The ACJS is one of the nation’s preeminent criminology and criminal justice professional associations.

In 2018, the program, part of the College for Public Health and Social Justice, received the ACJS’s Community Engagement Work for events it held in 2017 as part of the association’s Criminal Justice Month initiative.

SLU’s program will receive this year’s award on Friday, March 29, at the ACJS’s national meeting in Baltimore.

 “Our program challenges and engages students intellectually with the latest in theory, research and practice,” Noelle Fearn, Ph.D., the program’s director, associate professor of criminology and criminal justice, and associate professor of women’s and gender studies, said. “SLU is founded on the Jesuit tradition of ‘educating the whole person.’ Our program challenges and engages students intellectually with the latest in theory, research and practice. SLU is the place you come to change the world. Our major offers students the opportunity to live what they learn through compassionate service.”

The Criminal Justice Month events that won the program the ACJS’s top program honor align with what students learn in classes, Fearn explained, while also bringing them face-to-face with people directly impacted by the criminal justice system.

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“Students gain invaluable skills in helping us develop the kinds of events they are interested in – those especially related to social and criminal justice,” Fearn explained. “Participation in these events exposes our students, faculty, staff and community members to others with shared interests in promoting social justice.”

Many of the month’s events, as well as SLU’s CCJ classes, bring together students and experts from the diverse yet related fields in SLU’s School of Social Work, including applied behavior analysis, social work and urban planning and development.

Last year’s Criminal Justice Month, in March 2018, included, among other events: a “Write a Rep” session to engage St. Louis community members in advocacy; the inaugural Dr. Norm White Lecture honoring the noted SLU criminologist, which featured SLU alumnus Judge Jimmie Edwards, a noted juvenile justice reform advocate and St. Louis’s director of public safety; a networking and recruitment fair; and a visit to the Missouri State Penitentiary to engage students, faculty and staff members with the historical significance of criminal justice evolution in the state.

 “Our events expose students, many for the first time, to individuals dissimilar from them, and to opportunities to advocate for vulnerable people with little voice,” Fearn said. “These experiences are crucial to a Jesuit education. Through CCJ events and offerings that combine social and human justice-focused disciplines, our students explore myriad avenues to learn and to live our mission in service for and with others.”

The program’s multidisciplinary approach, Fearn said, underscores for students that there are multiple interrelated approaches to better understanding and crafting potential responses to the complex issues they learn about in their criminology and criminal justice classes.

Our program challenges and engages students intellectually with the latest in theory, research and practice. SLU is the place you come to change the world. Our major offers students the opportunity to live what they learn through compassionate service."

Noelle Fearn, Ph.D., director, criminology and criminal justice program

CCJ students engage in a variety of service learning experiences during their course work and have opportunities to get on-the-ground experience in criminal justice and criminology fields through internships and externships. Recent student interns have worked with St. Louis area police departments, in the offices of local prosecutors and defense attorneys and at non-profit agencies that support and provide services to crime victims, prisoners, former offenders and family members impacted by a loved one’s experience with the criminal or juvenile justice systems.

“Consistent with the University’s Jesuit tradition, the criminology and criminal justice program seeks to strengthen our criminal justice systems and, more importantly, our communities by focusing on the factors that cause crime and violence, and on the recognizing and valuing the humanity of victims, offenders and those working in these fields,” Fearn said.

“SLU’s CCJ program is innovative in its approach to educating and training tomorrow’s leaders in criminology and criminal justice who are better prepared to identify and implement practices that have the very real potential to improve our justice systems by focusing on the humanity of those involved in and impacted by crime and violence in our communities,” she continued. “As Dr. Norm White explained SLU CCJ’s disciplinary philosophy, ‘we are justice with a heart.’”


The Saint Louis University College for Public Health and Social Justice is the only academic unit of its kind, studying social, environmental and physical influences that together determine the health and well-being of people and communities. It also is the only accredited school or college of public health among nearly 250 Catholic institutions of higher education in the United States.

Guided by a mission of social justice and focus on finding innovative and collaborative solutions for complex health problems, the College offers nationally recognized programs in public health, social work, health administration, applied behavior analysis, and criminology and criminal justice.

Story by Amelia Flood, University Marketing and Communications