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Justice Studies

Westminster's Justice Studies program

What is Justice Studies?

The social sciences, which include justice studies, are focused on understanding people and their behaviors. The Westminster Justice Studies program treats the ethics of justice as a broad category of social and political issues relating to a critical analysis of crime and justice, intersectionality of gender and ethnicity, economic, environmental, and social justice. Accordingly, students who choose a major in Justice Studies are encouraged to take interdisciplinary coursework that exposes them to alternative and diverse ways of thinking about the philosophical concept of justice. This includes, but is not limited to coursework in fields such as  Anthropology, Communication, Economics, Environmental Studies, Gender Studies, Philosophy, Political Studies, and Psychology that helps students understand the nature of justice and why individuals and governmental institutions may or may not behave in a just manner.

Today, the competitive environment in which law and justice operate requires that persons entering or working in that arena possess a solid foundation in the cultural, ethical, historical, legal, and social aspects of Justice Studies as well as well-developed critical, analytical, and communication skills in order to be an effective law practitioner, researcher, or teacher in our field. Graduates with a Justice Studies degree will be critical analysis thinkers who possess a firm academic foundation in the liberal arts upon which is built a solid knowledge base of how justice, in its many forms (such as race, class, and gender, etc…), meets the needs of American and global societies.   The curriculum revisions accepted for this major are an outgrowth of specific issues identified during the process of changes of the Justice Studies (JUST) program.  Some of the revisions are intended to strengthen student learning in the specific areas of critical analysis as it pertains among others to ethnicity, race, class, and gender issues.  The purpose of these revisions has been to move the Justice Studies program in an even more interdisciplinary direction toward a humanistic inquiry of justice. 

Historically, the program had a narrow focus on mainstream criminal justice issues. That narrowly focused program is no longer in existence.  Today, instead, the critical analysis of crime and justice will remain only one of the components of the coursework offered to the JUST specific emphasis, where students will study, by using critical analysis, how law enforcement practices affect people in different ways according (among others) to their class, ethnicity, gender, and race.

The implemented revisions have broadened the focus of the program in a number of ways:

  •  Courses like Community Justice, Legislation of Morality, and Restorative Justice examine issues of justice in a critical and analytical form under the specific lenses of ethnicity, race, class, gender etc… This enhanced critical-analytical focus will make the JUST major even more consistent with pedagogical approaches taken in other social science disciplines such as Political Science, Psychology, Economics, and Anthropology.

  • Through the new emphasis requirement (Intersectionality of ethnicity and gender), the program integrates the JUST curriculum relative to issues of ethnicity and gender with justice-oriented coursework being offered in a variety of disciplines across the campus to elicit answers and solutions for those institutional practices (governmental or private) that victimize our planet and beings that live in it.

The Westminster Difference: 

  • Engage in independent research and experiential learning activities such as service learning and internships.

  • The strong liberal arts foundation in justice studies provides solid ground for students interested in pursuing graduate and professional degrees as well as a wide range of both traditional and non-traditional careers.

  • Understand the humanistic nature of justice and why individuals and institutions may or may not behave in a just manner through interdisciplinary coursework in fields such as Anthropology, Economics, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, and Communications.

  • Experiment with ideas in an environment rich with diverse opinions, cultures, and people.

  • Gain a deep understanding of the cultural, social, political, ethical, and psychological inter-relationships out of which justice issues develop.