The Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy is a unit within the Department of Criminology, Law and Society at George Mason University. Our professors, affiliate professors and advanced PHD students teach a wide range of graduate and undergraduate courses.
CRIM721: The Constitution, Criminal Procedure, and Security (Taught by: Professor Linda Merola). This course focuses on legal doctrines that form the basis of U.S. constitutional procedural rights and how doctrines develop, why courts rule as they do, and evaluating strengths, weaknesses of rights.
CRIM 730: The Supreme Court and Constitutional Law (Taught by: Professor Linda Merola). In this course, we will learn about the role, influence, and effects of U.S. courts in creating constitutional norms and interpreting them. We will examine topics such as the development of judicial review and the ways in which courts interact with the executive and legislative branches. Additionally, we will study the structure of the U.S. government, including the concepts of federalism and separation of powers. Finally, we will conclude with an examination of Supreme Court precedent related to the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
CRIM 760: Crime and Crime Policy (Taught by: Professor Cynthia Lum). Crime and Crime Policy (CRIM 760) is one of four core required courses for MA and PHD students in the Department of Criminology, Law and Society. This course familiarizes students with major criminological theories that are implicated in many current crime concerns, policies and criminal justice interventions. Empirical evidence of crime policies and how they relate to specific theories are examined, identifying strengths and weaknesses in the research and considering better ways to tackle crime, criminality, recidivism, victimization and risks fairly and effectively through research. Students will learn to develop a critical perspective towards the literature, learning how to analyze, apply and synthesize literature to explore research questions and address criminological inquiries.
CRIM 780: Research Methods (Taught by Professor David Wilson). Introduces logic and methods of scientific inquiry in justice, law, and crime policy. Includes conceptualization of research questions, observation, measurement, research design, and principles of causality. Evaluation of extant research according to scientific principles.
CRIM 781: Justice Program Evaluation (Taught by Professor Christopher Koper). The goal of the course is to educate students about the principles and methods of program evaluation. We will examine the conceptual framework for program evaluation and probe the issues and methods involved in developing evaluation questions and assessing various aspects of program theory, operation, and impacts. The course will place a heavy emphasis on the application of these principles and methods to a number of contemporary policy issues in criminology. Students will learn how to develop and design evaluation research and to synthesize and assess existing research using a program evaluation framework. The course is not a statistics or research methods class, but it will illustrate the application of these tools to the evaluation of policies and programs.
CRIM 782: Statistics I (Taught by Professor David Wilson). This course will focus on descriptive and inferential statistical methods and theory. The logic of inferential statistical methods in general and null hypothesis significance testing in particular will be explored. Widely used statistical procedures within the social sciences will be studied. This course builds on the research methods learned in CRIM 780 and will provide you with a familiarity in performing data analyses using a common computer software (Stata).
CRIM 783: Statistics II (Taught by Professors Sue-Ming Yang and David Wilson). This course focuses on the theory and application of multivariate regression methods as applied within the justice field. Topics include tests for and consequences of violating assumptions of the generalized linear model, dummy coding of categorical variables, testing of interaction effects, logistic regression, ordered and multinominal logit, and missing data analysis.
CRIM 790: Research Practicum: Capstone in Policy and Practice (Taught by Professor Laurie Robinson). This Research Practicum is the capstone course for students pursuing the Department’s new concentration on Criminology Policy and Practice. In the course, students will work with a justice organization (a government agency or a non-profit) to plan, initiate and undertake a research project, focusing on a problem or issue that is relevant and useful to that organization. This work will culminate in students preparing a policy-oriented report (a “white paper”), as well as a PowerPoint summarizing findings and recommendations for presentation at the class’s final session.
CRIM 795: Special Topics – Experimental Criminology (Taught by Professor David Weisburd). Randomized experiments are generally considered the most reliable method that researchers can use in linking causes and effects. For this reason, a number of scholars have called randomized studies the “gold standard” for research. But randomized studies continue to be the exception rather than the rule in criminal justice study. In this course, we will contrast randomized designs with other approaches, examining statistical, methodological, ethical and practical concerns. What are the statistical advantages of randomized experimental designs? Why do some researchers believe that randomized studies violate ethical standards in criminal justice? Why are experiments considered to have higher internal validity than non-randomized designs and how do different types of designs compare in terms of external validity? We will also focus on how experiments can be developed and how they are analyzed. What are the practical barriers to experimentation and how can they be overcome? What statistical methods are most appropriate for experimental analysis? How can block randomization or hierarchical modeling be used to develop more powerful or more practical research approaches?
CRIM 795: Special Topics – Crime and Place (Taught by Professor David Weisburd). Recent studies have shown a tremendous concentration of crime at very small geographic units of analysis such as street segments (often termed “hot spots”), and research on hot spots policing suggests significant crime prevention benefits can be gained by focusing on such places. This course will first explore basic research showing the importance on focusing on micro places or crime hot spots (instead of just individuals and large areas). We will then turn to theoretical explanations that can guide our understanding of why crime concentrates in particular places. We will then turn to applied research and focus on the emergence of and empirical evidence regarding hot spots policing. This discussion will include a review of findings on displacement and diffusion effects as well as potential unintended negative consequences for police legitimacy of a hot spots approach. We will end with a discussion of future directions for crime and place research, particularly for moving police towards a place-based focus.
CRIM 795: Special Topics – Criminological Theory (Taught by Professor Charlotte Gill). Criminological theories seek to explain what we know and observe about crime. Why are some people more likely to commit crime than others? Is crime a “normal” part of society? How do certain social, environmental, and economic conditions shape crime rates in societies? Why do many offenders “age out” of crime? What shapes the responses of the public and the criminal justice system to criminal behavior? Theory may sometimes seem abstract and disconnected from reality, but in fact it allows us to make sense of the complexity of criminal behavior and underpins many of the generalizations that we make every day as researchers, decision makers, and citizens. Sound theories of criminal behavior, supported by empirical research, can help us to develop logical, effective strategies and policies for responding to crime. The goal of this course is to provide students with a solid foundation in the key theoretical traditions of our discipline to further their development as scholars and justice practitioners.
Members of the CEBCP have taught a wide variety of undergraduate subjects. For specific information about whether a particular course is being offered during this semester, please consult GMU’s Schedule of Classes.
CRIM 210: Introduction to Criminal Justice
CRIM 315: Research Methods
CRIM 320: Crime and Place
CRIM 401: Policing in America
CRIM 405: Law and Justice Around the World
CRIM 409: Community Policing
CRIM 424: Constitutional Law and Criminal Procedures
CRIM 490: Crime and Place
CRIM 490: Firearms Policy and Politic
CRIM 491/2: Honors Seminars