Futuring Paper – Criminal Justice, Law, and Security

Matthew C. Ingram (Political Science)

  1. What forces are shaping your discipline today (learning, work, and professional practice)?
    • The changing world environment and the increasing threats from nonstate actors are shaping what researchers are focusing on
    • Pressure to get grants and reduced availability of funding
    • Concerns about terrorism and mass murders are likely having some impact though I don't necessarily see the direct impact in the discipline
    • Communicating results of academic research to show policy relevance
    • Concerns about racial disparities (brought even more to light with police shootings) is definitely having an impact in terms of the focus of research and even hiring at various universities.
    • Increasing racial, ethnic, national origin, and class diversity among our students.
    • Increased interest in the public and normative impact of research in these areas.
    • Increased anxiety among students about career opportunities post-graduation.
    • Increased anxiety about law school as a feasible or productive option.
    • The shifting nature of crime. Compare car theft at the beginning of the 20th century, and cybercrime at the beginning of the 21st century.
    • The expanding boundaries of what is considered criminal justice and the wider social control mechanisms that impinge of crime and its control.
    • The increasing expansion of criminal justice into public security issues, leading to overlaps with such fields as public health, urban planning, terrorism and international crime, technologies of many kinds.
    • Need to examine U.S. from more comparative perspective
    • Need to integrate more innovative and sophisticated techniques in data analysis
    • Climate security
    • Pressure to think of security in broader terms, i.e., security as more than just inter-state security or even more recent emphasis on non-state actors – need to think not just of new threats posed by political violence, but threats posed by neglecting health, education, environment, climate to develop a framework for thinking about social, human, or citizen insecurity
    • Pressure to work in inter-disciplinary teams

     

  2. In ten years, what forces will shape changes in your discipline? How will professional practice be affected?
    • Security studies are mostly shaped by the key concerns of policy makers.  20 years ago terrorism was not a major issue and IR did not study Civil war.  Both of these have changed tremendously due to shifts in threats.
    • It is hard to foresee what the hot button issues will be in the future though I suspect there are likely to be enduring concerns about race, terrorism, and the nature of research informing public policy.
    • Increasing scarcity of resources for research
    • Increasing pressures within higher education more generally (teaching pressures and pushes to increase student enrollment) are also likely to create some changes (and are likely doing so already).
    • In terms of job opportunities, criminology (and related areas) has continued to do quite well and I suspect that this is likely to continue in the future.  Crime and legal issues are enduring public concerns so that does help to sustain the field and create job opportunities at least.
    • Publishing is changing, and right now it is hard to tell where this is going. I expect that with more materials being available electronically, some types of publications will begin to garner more readership and citations than they do now (i.e., edited volumes). It may become increasingly difficult for scholars to publish scholarly monographs. Open source publishing will become more prevalent, but more care will be needed to ascertain quality. 
    • Many universities will continue to rely increasingly on contingent and part-time teaching, and to the extent that states do not increase funding for higher education, pressures will increase on universities to make up the difference by increasing enrollments and research funding and decreasing spending. This will lead to more pressure on the remaining tenure-stream faculty to do the service work to keep institutions functioning.  More and more employers will continue to demand critical thinking and writing skills of their employees and wise universities will invest in maintaining faculty who can teach these skills.  
    • Changes in legal education. It's hard to tell what will happen with law school, but we've likely reached the bottom and a modest rebound will occur. This will affect enrollments in undergraduate majors relating to law.
    • The academic profession of criminology will lag behind rapid developments in technology, especially surveillance and control aspects of crime.
    • Criminal justice at its inception was always considered to be interdisciplinary, but in fact in the USA has essentially been developed as a branch of sociology. This will change.
    • Policing has always been the "poor man" of academic criminal justice. This has to change, given the demands of cyber media, social media place on institutions and individuals.
    • There will be/is a crisis of authority and legitimacy of knowledge and education because of the open discourse now available in social media and the lack of authoritative filtering of information.
    • The role of science itself is now under threat and it will get worse because of the failure of scientists to understand the difficulty of transforming their findings, scientifically produced, into policy.

     

  3. What are the implications for your profession, continuous professional development, and teaching and learning? Specifically, what new opportunities may be created in the future?
    • violent nonstate actors will continue to be a serious threat to world security, and thus a focus on why such actors choose to use violence in the first place and ways of changing the situation to reduce the creation of such actors as well as how to stop such actors will impact both professional development in how academics are trained and what is taught in class rooms.
    • changing nature of teaching and learning but more from local pressures to increase student enrollments when classes are already close to capacity (120+ in 300-level classes); this hurts professional development (impedes research) and the quality of student learning.
    • We can and should offer more courses that address identity issues and law, but we must be cautious not to hollow out our core in doing so. Expanding into new areas while hollowing out core teaching and research areas in law would be disastrous.
    • Online teaching and learning is inevitable. This university is dragging its feet.
    • There are many different ways to transfer and impart information (a.k.a. in the 20th century, knowledge). Standing in a classroom and lecturing is only one, and a dying method. 
    • Establishing online courses by persons who are still authorities in their fields is essential.
    • The idea of 9-5 jobs is disappearing along with the new technologies that make the acquisition of knowledge and work environments more convenient and accessible. Time-limited courses, divided into particular semesters etc. are less relevant to the routines of everyday life. "Learning on demand" is what is needed.
    • Libraries full of shelves of books are becoming less and less relevant.
    • Soon, professors will be less and less relevant. Machines will take their place.
    • Need for more interdisciplinarity (people to work across apparently unrelated disciplines, e.g., computer science with social science)
    • Changes towards digital publication will force scholars and administrators to rethink how to gauge quality and impact, or make more funding available for open access fees
    • Major academic presses are already moving to digital format and alternative publishing formats (other than traditional journals or books)

     

  4. How will the future developments and opportunities affect the university – impacted departments or units? How might UAlbany respond to these within the strategic planning process?
    • This has already had a big impact on UAlbany- see the creation of CEHC and grants related to these questions that different people have received as well as the research people are doing; there is value in investing in this area and that can have large scale pay offs for both the university and the students we teach.
    • Further restrictions on funding for research at the national level (NSF, NIH, DOJ) will likely negatively impact research and put increasing pressure on universities. 
    • Pressure on sociology from the increasing student enrollments since the sociology department seems to be a catch-all major and does a fair amount of teaching for criminal justice students.  Class sizes are large except for methods, statistics, and a 400-level seminar.
    • infrastructure issue at UAlbany (old classrooms from the 1960s and there is no way to adjust this).
    • UAlbany will need to get creative to deal with the fewer resources for research issue and the infrastructure issue.
    • It would be nice if there was some way to have the schools/departments on the downtown campus on the uptown campus to create greater dialogue among all of those in the crime/law/security area.
    • Relatedly, the previous strategic plan called for a consolidation of social sciences on downtown campus; that would have created a lot of interactions and dynamism in the area of crime/law/security, and in the social sciences more generally. Can this be revived?
    • There is likely to be an increased demand for law-related undergraduate education. We should reinforce the resources we have and plan for modest expansion. In doing so, we should emphasize a liberal arts orientation that focuses on strengthening students' critical thinking and writing abilities.
    • This university needs urgently to embrace and plan its OTL initiatives and insist that every academic department participates and provide the appropriate funding​ to do so.
    • Criminal justice should be gradually merged with public health and homeland security, or at least many more shared lines established.
    • An institute of public security that would research and teach about policing, regulation and prevention of criminal behavior  needs to be established and staffed with qualified people.
    • Need more data analysis infrastructure (upgrade networks), including secure access and storage for projects with sensitive data (e.g., juvenile, criminal, or health data)
    • Need investment in infrastructure for large-scale data analysis, especially for two types of data: (1) simulated or “fake” data, which can often take up large amounts of memory; (2) sensitive, individual-level data
    • Need structure for remote access to computing resources for teams of researchers or classes to be able to work on this large projects jointly while still following the strictest data protection protocols for sensitive data