Sociology & Criminal Justice

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Sociology & Criminal Justice

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Special Opportunities

An Elmhurst education is about much more than courses and credits. Our focus on the real-world application of what you're learning helps you prepare for a meaningful and rewarding career.

Independent Field Work
Independent Research
Independent Study
Social Science Honor Society
Service Learning

Independent Field Work
Working with a faculty member and a partnering agency, students may design field experiences that enable them to work directly within an organization while closely studying its structure. Some examples of students' field experiences:

  • Working with the Cook County Sheriff's Office to improve community relations and policing
  • Organizing case information for the Criminal Investigations Unit of the Illinois Department of Revenue
  • Developing youth recreation activities for the Villa Park Recreation Department
  • Helping investigate cases of alleged child abuse and family dysfunction with the Department of Children and Family Services in Aurora
  • Training as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for children

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Independent Research
For an independent research project, students design and execute a formal research proposal using questionnaires, interviews, field observation, content analysis, available data, or an experiment to answer specific hypotheses. Students have the opportunity to present their research at the Associated Colleges of the Chicago Area Student Research Symposium, the Elmhurst College Research and Performance Showcase, and to submit it for publication in Investigations, the College's journal for student work.

Here are some examples of independent research topics:

  • Knowledge and attitudes toward AIDS and AIDS victims
  • Images of God
  • Interaction among blacks and whites on campus
  • Bulimia among college women
  • Suicide ideation among college students
  • Attitudes toward cultural diversity on campus

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Independent Study
This type of study primarily involves library readings on a student-selected topic or issue and may include observation of or interview with persons who are involved with the issue (supervisors, therapists, workers, victims, or participants). The work is an extension of a topic from a previously completed regular sociology or social work course.

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Social Science Honor Society
Elmhurst maintains an active local chapter of Pi Gamma Mu, the national social science honor society that encourages excellence in the social sciences. The society not only recognizes scholarship achievements, but also offers enrichment opportunities through service projects, publications, scholarships, and lectureship grants. Junior and senior sociology and criminal justice students become eligible to join when they meet the following criteria: upper 35 percent of their class, a grade average of B or better, and 20 semester hours completed in social science courses.

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Service Learning
Some of the department's courses incorporate a service-learning component through which students acquire academic knowledge through benevolent service, critical reflection, and discussions in groups. Past service projects include tutoring at-risk grade school students, helping Cook County Jail inmates complete their GEDs, teaching English to new immigrants, helping severely disabled children in developmental programs, and working in homeless shelters.

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