Crime and Social Problems

Courses in this cluster examine the complex interplay between crime, justice, and social issues. 

Course Descriptions

CC105: Forensic Geology

Instructor: Michelle Gevedon
Learning Across the Liberal Arts Designation: Scientific Analysis
CRN# 15356
Block: 1

Modern forensics, made popular by crime-solving television shows, movies, and novels, has roots in technologies, and observational and data collection methods originally developed for use in geological research. This course centers the application of geoscience concepts to environmental, historical, criminal, and archeological forensic investigations, while introducing geology subfields of sedimentology, stratigraphy, mineralogy, petrology, and geochemistry through in-class activities, student-lead case studies, and field excursions.  Applications to be discussed in class include investigations of art and antiquities fraud, food authenticity, archeological and historic controversies, and criminal investigations. Students will develop skills to interpret trace evidence in the context of minerals, rocks, soils, and the fossil record, and to generate testable observation-based hypotheses. The block will culminate with students using materials learned to author original novellas or scripts where forensic geological evidence plays a central role in solving a mystery, crime, or controversy.

Occasional afternoon class meetings required. Some one-day fieldtrips may be required, leaving campus by 8:30 am with the goal of returning by 4pm. A minimum of one and a maximum of two over-night field trips will be required. Outdoor activity will include light hiking in a group on established trails, not to exceed 2.5 miles and will include minimal elevation gain. Outdoor experience and ownership of camping gear is NOT required to take this course.

CC120: Mathematics for Sustainability

Instructor: Mike Siddoway
CRN# 15357
Block: 2

“Mathematics for Sustainability” will cover topics connected to resource assessment including measurement, estimation, equilibrium and flows. We will also study energy stocks and ecological systems/networks; in particular energy flows in the climate system. Various models for growth will be discussed. Exponential and logarithm functions will be used as first approximations of growth (decay) behavior, and logistic models will be studied when considering environmental limits to change. Systems, connections and feedbacks will be focused on in specific case studies selected from (depending on the interests of students) control of wildfires, recycling, population growth and questions of control, genetic engineering and the future of food, nuclear power, efficient use of electricity at home, solar energy, the ecological impacts of electric vehicles, and federal predator controls in the service of the livestock industry. Basic statistics and probability theory will be used to understand and measure risk, payoffs, and when possible, to make careful predictions. Students will complete an individual research project presented at the end of the course that will make use of mathematical tools to better understand a topic in sustainability.


CC106: Constructing Social Problems

Instructor: Gail Murphy-Geiss
Learning Across the Liberal Arts Designation: Societies and Human Behavior
CRN# 15358
Block: 1

This course will investigate how social conditions come to be defined as social problems, specifically examining the roles of advocates, policy makers, experts, the media, and the public. Why do some social problems receive so much attention, while others are ignored? What are the impacts of defining social problems in a particular way? Drawing on case studies of contemporary issues, including racism, wealth inequality, health care access, the criminal justice system, and climate change, the uneven consequences of social problems will be exposed; some groups are disproportionately disadvantaged while others disproportionately benefit.

One afternoon field trip.

CC120: Private Troubles, Public Issues, and Social Change

Instructor: Sandi Wong
CRN# 15359
Block: 3

“The sociological imagination enables us to grasp history and biography and the relations between the two within society. That is its task and its purpose.” C. Wright Mills described the “sociological imagination” as a quality of mind that compels us to situate our biographies in history and society and enables us to relate our experiences to our location within social structures. By engaging theories of social stratification and reproduction, we will learn how institutions shape our opportunities, our socioeconomic status and our positions of power or powerlessness, and how cultural values and community norms inform our identities and affiliations, our aspirations and pursuits, and our notions of dignity, meaning, and worth. To relate private troubles and public issues, we will ask: What is the role of education in achieving the American Dream? What is the relationship between growing inequality and the rise of meritocracy? What are the implications of meritocratic values and principles for political attitudes and social change and for alternative visions of the common good?


CC105: Criminalistics: An Introduction to Forensic Science

Instructor: Murphy Brasuel
Learning Across the Liberal Arts Designation: Scientific Analysis
CRN# 15360
Block: 1

This course will teach some basic chemistry concepts that will be applied directly to the forensic science found useful in the investigation of crime. A mix of historical and fictional case studies, collecting evidence from crime scenes, and methodologies employed in the forensic sciences will be used as a framework to learn about the application of these basic chemical principles. Library research coupled with written and oral presentations will be used to develop forensic reporting skills. Scientific articles and texts in conjunction with popular literature will be used to elucidate the scientific principles that support analysis and interpretation of forensic evidence. We will briefly explore the intersection of science and criminal justice and how scientific principles can be twisted/misused/misrepresented resulting in inequities in the justice system. If you are a fan of CSI and/or crime mysteries, and are wondering if they have gotten the science right, then this is the course for you!

There will be at least 5 afternoon labs in this course.

CC120: Introduction to Political Philosophy

Instructor: John Grace
CRN# 15361
Block: 2

Investigates the foundation and aims of politic rule as well as fundamental debates over the meaning of justice, liberty, power, authority, law and rights through an examination of basic but competing perspectives drawn from ancient, medieval, and modern texts. Thinkers include, but are not limited to, Aristotle, Aquinas, Machiavelli, and Locke.

At least one day we will have an afternoon class in addition to our morning class.


Report an issue - Last updated: 05/26/2023