Criminology Major Added to R-MC Curriculum

Dec 19, 2017


Denise BisslerIn fall 2017, the Randolph-Macon College faculty approved a new major in Criminology. The central focus of the major is to understand social structure and social processes in relation to crime, criminality, and punishment.

"The Criminology major provides students with an understanding of crime from both a structural and individual perspective," explains Professor Denise Bissler, chair of the Sociology and Anthropology Department. "Criminology focuses on causation, prevention of crime, punishment, and effectiveness of social control policies. Criminology students will study how human behavior is regulated, how social order is maintained, and how violations of law are handled."

Critical Thinking
Students in the Criminology major will learn to think critically about how the criminal justice system is structured to benefit some to the detriment of others, says Bissler.

"The major will focus on the social construction of crime and the inequalities that characterize the system, and each course will explore its central theme in the context of dominant power structures," she explains. "This major is well-rounded and thus very much in line with the liberal arts education offered at R-MC—courses will emphasize critical thinking, ethical dilemmas, diversity issues, as well as reading, writing, and speaking skills."

Career Options
The newest addition to R-MC’s curriculum offers students a wide variety of career choices.

"The Criminology curriculum will prepare students for a wide variety of both academic and applied fields," says Bissler. "The major provides a background for careers in law enforcement (local and federal), courts, corrections, victim advocacy, case management, juvenile correctional and diversion programs, and data analysis. It also prepares students well for graduate school."

Denise Bissler
Bissler joined the faculty in 2003. She earned her B.A. and M.A. at The University of Akron and her Ph.D. from North Carolina State University with an expertise in Criminology. She teaches courses related to criminological theory, serial and mass murder, juvenile delinquency, deviant behavior, and human trafficking.

Bissler, who has served as a Higgins Teaching Fellow at R-MC, is president of Sociologists for Women in Society-South and is vice president-elect for 2019-2020 for the Southern Sociological Society. In addition, she is the departmental liaison for the Sociology and Anthropology Department's internship/field studies courses and for Alpha Kappa Delta, the college's sociological honor society.