Kimberly Barrett on Criminology Departments Not Offering Corporate Crime Courses

Most criminology and criminal justice programs at universities across the country don’t even offer courses on corporate and white-collar crime.

Kimberly barrett
University of Eastern Michigan

And if they do, very few require students to take the course before graduation.

This is the preliminary finding of a study by Kimberly Barrett of Eastern Michigan University.

“Maegen Gabriel, a graduate student of Eastern Michigan University, and I are currently working on an investigation into the portrayal of corporate and white-collar crime in undergraduate criminology and criminal justice programs in the United States.” , Barrett said. Corporate Crime Reporter in an interview.

“On a very preliminary basis, the data suggests that most programs don’t even offer a course on corporate crime, let alone require students to take it. This is consistent with previous findings on the portrayal of corporate crime in criminology. This is a topic on which we continue to collect data. We hope to publish this in the next few months. “

“When you ask – why don’t more people care about corporate crime? – that’s an answer. They go to school. They specialize in criminology and criminal justice. And they don’t have to take a corporate crime course. This feeds into their accounts of what crime is, who the offenders are and who the victims are. “

“We are a few months away from the publication of this study. But what we’re finding is that most programs don’t even have white collar and corporate crime courses. And of those who do, very few need it.

“A few years ago a study was done on doctoral programs in criminology. Almost none of them required a white collar or corporate crime class. This meant that you could get a PhD in Criminology without studying white collar and corporate crime. “

“Another study looked at criminology journals and they found that those journals just don’t publish on white collar crime and corporate crime.”

“To my knowledge, the first criminologists to ask this question were Richard Wright and David Friedrichs, who found corporate crime to be grossly under-represented in undergraduate programs. This was in the 1990s, and the issue of the undergraduate program has not been discussed since.

“Lynch, McGurrin, and Fenwick explored the portrayal of white-collar crime in criminal justice journals, textbooks, and doctoral programs in their 2004 publication – Act of disappearance: the representation of research on corporate crime in the criminological literature. ”

“The analysis found that of the 21 criminology doctoral programs surveyed, only 9 offered a course in white-collar crime, and none of them required the course. More recently (2013), McGurrin and colleagues updated and replicated the study, and found that 16 of 38 doctoral programs offer a course in white-collar crime, but only one requires it – and it is for a specific track within their programs. Both studies document corporate crime as on the periphery of journals and criminology textbooks. Another EMU graduate student, Demarco Johnson, analyzed victimology textbooks and discovered similar issues of under-representation of environmental and corporate crime.

To help close the gap, a group of corporate criminologists began The Journal of White Collar and Corporate Crime. Barrett is associate editor of the journal.

“The newspaper was founded by Gregg Barak and Anne Alvesalo-Kuusi in 2018,” Barrett said. “They approached me and asked if I wanted to get involved as a member of the editorial board. The first board meeting was at the American Society of Criminology meeting in 2017 or 2018. Gregg shared his vision with us. It was well received. Many of us have thought – now is the time for a journal that focuses on investigating the crimes of the powerful. ”

“I got more involved as an associate editor. The journal is also the flagship journal of the American Society for Criminology Division of White Collar and Corporate Crime. Several members are also involved in the editorial board as reviewers.

“We publish theoretical papers and empirical surveys. We publish qualitative work and quantitative work.

How often is it published?

“We publish two issues a year. We are now on our second volume and second issue.

Looking at the journal’s editorial board, it looks like maybe half of them are from outside the United States. Do you find there is more interest in corporate crime and white collar crime outside of the United States?

“I feel like in the United States the focus is on interpersonal acts of street crime. Researchers based in the United States are not as open to critical explanations of crime and justice, or political and economic explanations of crime and justice.

Prior to going to the University of South Florida, what was your understanding of corporate and white collar crime?

“I had no formal education in corporate crime. During my undergraduate years, I did not take a course on corporate or white collar crime. By entering this field, I wanted to know more. When I came to USF, I took a radical criminology course and a corporate crime course. I felt like it was a transformation for me.

Did your introduction to this field come from Michael Lynch?

“Michael Lynch founded the field of green criminology in the early 1990s. Mike was concerned that criminologists in general did not discuss issues in the natural environment. Problems like political economy and corporate crime have remained on the periphery of crime and justice. ”

“In the late 1980s there was a series of high profile environmental disasters that raised awareness among the general public about the issue – the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Chernobyl, Bhopal. Mike thought the time had come for criminologists to commit serious corporate crimes involving the environment. He called for the study of what he called green criminology.

“It’s something I learned from taking lessons with Mike. It gave me language of some of what I was observing in the field. It also made me want to learn more about corporate crime. I then started asking questions – why isn’t this in more programs? Why is this not required of criminal justice students? Why don’t we devote more space and time to understanding these issues? “

“I have become deeply concerned about these issues. And I try to integrate it into my own teaching. It is a central theme of my research. Corporate crime is something I have focused on for most of the past ten years now. “

You are co-author of a manual with Michael Lynch, Michael Long and Paul Stretesky – Green criminology: crime, justice and the environment. It was published by the University of California Press in 2017.

How many green criminology courses are there in the United States?

“Not a lot – single digit. Students don’t know how much they care until they learn it. It’s like the chicken and egg problem. I would love to see environmental crime courses and corporate crime courses as mandatory courses in the field.

“Once students are exposed to the material, they develop more interest and enthusiasm for it. “

[For the complete q/a format Interview with Kimberly Barrett, see 35 Corporate Crime Reporter 35, Monday September 13, 2021, print edition only.]

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