- by Mount Saint Mary College

Jenifer Lee-Gonyea, associate professor of criminology 2016Jenifer Lee-Gonyea, associate professor of criminology, will begin teaching courses in the college’s new criminology major in fall 2016. 


Mount Saint Mary College will launch a new criminology major in the fall 2016 semester.

Formulated by Mount associate criminology professor Jenifer Lee-Gonyea, PhD, the major will explore the varied aspects of crime, from the process of defining crime, victimization, and the criminal justice system, to exploring society’s response to criminals and the reasons people break the law.

“Students will get a nuanced exposure to understanding why crime happens, what to do after it happens, and what we can do to stop it,” explained Lee-Gonyea.

Those who complete the criminology program will have varied career options, including positions in law enforcement, corrections, community service agencies, child welfare programs, adult protective services, mental health, and more.

While the terms “criminology” and “criminal justice” are often used interchangeably, they reference two distinct disciplines, notes Lee-Gonyea.

Criminal justice, she explained, focuses on components and functions of the criminal justice system, such as law enforcement, courts, and corrections.

However, in addition to the criminal justice system, criminology also examines causation, consequences of crime for the offender and victim, and prevention techniques that are not retributive in nature.

“Criminology is a discipline that originated from sociology and focuses on the scientific study of the making and breaking of laws, and society’s reaction to the breaking of laws,” Lee-Gonyea said. “This discipline focuses on all relevant parties and all aspects of crime,” such as what conditions in society may contribute to crime taking place; why persons or groups become victims of crime; what type of crime takes place most often; where crime takes place; and how crime might be prevented.

Students can choose one of four concentrations: general, for students interested in a variety of areas; criminal justice system; juvenile justice; and restorative justice, for students interested in alternative approaches to addressing crime by involving offenders, victims, and the community.

The Mount’s criminology major requires students to complete 120 credits to receive a bachelor’s degree, including 45 credits in the major, electives, and required general education courses.

Students not majoring in criminology, but still interested in the program, may elect to take an 18 credit minor in criminology starting fall 2016.

Lee-Gonyea earned a doctorate degree in criminology from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree in criminal justice from Marshall University in West Virginia. She began teaching at Mount Saint Mary College in 2008.

Her scholarly work has been published in the Journal of Research in Education; the Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice; the International Journal of Crime, Criminal Justice, and Criminal Law; and more.

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