New major added

Nathan Davis

Criminal Justice major introduced

This year, criminal justice has joined Seattle Pacific’s growing list of 69 major programs. However, this new major brings with it a new way to see criminal justice, putting a heavier emphasis on the people in the justice system and caring for them.

The addition of the criminal justice major was brought about by student interests.

“Criminal justice represents one of the top areas that students are interested in majoring in,” said Dr. Karen Snedker, who teaches Introduction to Criminal Justice, in an interview with the Falcon. “Given my expertise and Dr. Diekema’s [the other founder of the major], it seemed like a natural addition to the Sociology department.”

The goal of the major, found online under the sociology department’s list of majors, reads, “criminal justice prepares you to examine policing, courts, and corrections, and how they are shaped by society, race, and gender.”

Rather than placing heavy emphasis on the execution of laws, this major offers a class called Alternative Justice as its capstone, which teaches reforming criminals instead of keeping them in the correctional systems.

“We will explore ways that people can be diverted from the criminal justice system, as well as ways that people who are already in the criminal justice system can be treated more therapeutically,” Snedker said.

Stemming from the sociology department, with many of its classes having sociology equivalents and sharing the same professors, the classes revolve more around human behavior, with classes like Introduction to Statistics in Social and Behavioral Sciences, Policing and Communities, and Juvenile Delinquency.

“This program is not doing traditional criminal justice,” Snedker clarified. “We are asking students to go deep and think about the moral implications of an expanding criminal justice system and to address ethical issues about how our society can transform current practices.”
With the new major’s desire to move away from traditional means of executing criminal justice, the SPU criminal justice major looks more at the way the system itself works, considering, “various social scientific attempts to explain criminal behavior and patterns of criminality,” as stated in the Criminology course description. As Snedker puts it, “contrasting a ‘model of control’ versus a ‘model of care.’”

The description of the major also states that students will, “learn to apply Christian values and ethical principles to the criminal justice system.” The program plans to achieve this by requiring theology and ethics classes.

Since criminal justice is still growing as a major at SPU, the class list and opportunities are constantly expanding. Guest speakers from the Seattle Police Department like the sergeant of the Crisis Response Team will be giving talks.

Snedker said that students will get to hear, “how police are handling people in crisis, particularly mental health.”
Snedker invites any and all interested students to take Introduction to Criminal Justice and to talk to either her or her colleague, Dr. David Diekema, the founders of the major.

For information on the criminal justice major, go to:

For a list of descriptions of criminal justice classes, visit: