New Course Of Study To Open In The Fall
John Churchville, program director for Lancaster Bible College's (LBC) new criminal justice major, is quick to explain the philosophy behind the school's program. "(We) need ethical police officers because they are the ones making the decision whether to pull (someone) over," said Churchville. "You need police officers who are thinking, 'I am a servant to the community.'"
According to Churchville, it makes sense for the school to introduce the major to its traditional undergraduate and accelerated academic offerings because the program fits in with the biblical worldview espoused in the school's mission statement. He has also seen that young people have an inclination toward the major for a couple of reasons. "This generation (overall) is interested in social justice," said Churchville, who mentioned a report that states that the United States has only 5 percent of the world's population but 25 percent of the world's known prisoners. Churchville also noted that television has glamorized the profession to the point that students looking to attend college named criminal investigation work among their top three interests.
The program, which will be available online as well as at the school, can help prepare students for work in prisons and as corrections officers, public policy analysts, youth workers, legislative aides, paralegals, and victims' advocates, as well as in other careers found in the approximately 18,000 branches of law enforcement. Churchville stated that although the field is typically dominated by males, many women show an interest in the major, especially in the areas of social work and sociology.
Churchville aims to cast a wide net for his students. "I want to show the students all the sides of (criminal justice)," said Churchville, who has worked as both a prosecutor with Philadelphia's district attorney's office and as a defense attorney. "I want the students to get a holistic viewpoint rather than getting stuck in an ideological corner," Churchville said. "(The system) only works when everybody understands everybody else's role and does their part ethically, treating people with respect, courtesy, and humaneness. We can keep a check on each other, but it's not us against them."
To that end, Churchville will connect students with practical experiences, such as visiting a prison or riding along in police cars beginning their freshman year. "We are going to start by having the police come in (to speak to the class)," said Churchville. Churchville is teaching as an adjunct professor, and his students recently visited a local prison. "They have heard from prison reformers and from the guys in the trenches who have been running the prison for 25 years," he said.
One of Churchville's goals is to foster understanding and empathy in students. "Before you start judging, understand where the police officer is coming from," said Churchville. "Before you hate the defense attorney, understand their role. Let's understand where the victims are coming from. I want to be fair," explained Churchville.
A few students have already enrolled in the program, and some current LBC students plan to transfer into the major. Churchville has been teaching government and political science classes, as well as a pilot criminal justice class last fall that went well. Double majors in criminal justice and biblical studies will be available.
Students who want to learn more may visit http://www.lbc.edu/criminal-justice. Readers who have questions about this major or other LBC programs may call 866-522-4968.