Iowa State’s Department of Sociology is changing its name to better reflect students’ growing interest in criminal justice studies and to align itself with similar departments at the University of Iowa and University of Northern Iowa. Beginning July 1, the department will become the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice.
“The new name is a reflection of what the department looks like currently, in terms of the number of students and the number of faculty,” said Leana Bouffard, department chair. “Criminal justice has become a big piece of what we do, so it was important to the department to reflect that in the name.”
Bouffard said that when criminal justice switched from an interdisciplinary studies program to a full major in 2016, students’ interest in the subject matter dramatically increased. The name change offers more visibility for those students.
“We’ve heard from some of our students that they don’t feel like they belong because they are not recognized in the name of the department, so it’s been more difficult to communicate scholarships and other opportunities that students can take advantage of because when they see something come across that says Department of Sociology, they think that’s not me,” she said.
Additional benefits of the name change include additional support for faculty research and student recruitment.
“The name change may also foster recruiting and retention of undergraduate and graduate students with interests in this area,” Bouffard said.
Aside from a new name, nothing else within the department is changing. The undergraduate majors of agriculture and society, criminal justice and sociology will remain; no faculty changes are planned and the graduate programs in sociology and rural sociology will continue.