Faculty Member Advances Criminal Justice Disciplines

Homeland security is an emerging field, and Notre Dame College Assistant Professor of Political Science Kelley Cronin, Ph.D., is at the forefront.

She also is leading change in corresponding criminal justice education.

Cronin not only has helped elevate criminal justice to a full major at the College, where the program was a concentration before, but also has advanced the curriculum to focus on the study and analysis of criminal justice policy and the myriad of issues facing our criminal justice system.

“In our program, we educate students to become problem-solvers and critical thinkers about all aspects of the criminal justice system,” she said.

In addition to integrating liberal arts study with practical career preparation, the new undergraduate major at Notre Dame is notable because it addresses partisan politics along with national safety.

Earlier this year, Cronin’s book “Homeland Security: Policy and Politics” was released. It is quickly becoming a benchmark text for criminal justice and homeland security programs across the country.

In the early years after 911, homeland security education focused mostly on intelligence reaction and presidential directives. Today, Cronin recognizes the need for curriculum that incorporates the “all-hazards” approach.

She has developed a paradigm for criminal justice and homeland security study and scholarship that now incorporates emergency response, critical infrastructure, risk management and multi-jurisdictional procedures.

Her second book, “Understanding Critical Infrastructure and Risk Management: A Policy Perspective,” is expected to be published in 2016.Kelley Cronin

“The field is expanding from how we as a country respond to terrorist acts to how we assess threats and how we proactively protect our infrastructure and our systems,” Cronin said. “Terrorism is not the only danger. We also need to prepare for natural disasters.”

Hurricane Sandy disrupted electricity in Ohio for prolonged periods of time. In addition to affecting power grids, natural disasters—from earthquakes to wildfires to floods—can destroy buildings and bridges and disrupt telecommunications and financial markets, among other services essential for an economy to function.

Disasters also often require joint responses from multiple agencies—private, public and nonprofit—and from multiple states.

“Criminal justice as a major here is a springboard into a lot of different careers. It is interdisciplinary,” Cronin said. “Notre Dame College students are prepared to work in fields as diverse as a department of agriculture as well as a department of corrections.”

Graduates of the Notre Dame program serve in the U.S. Border Patrol, DEA, FBI and Department of Homeland Security, as well as in law enforcement agencies. Several also gain acceptance to and attend prominent law schools, including at Georgetown University.

Cronin also is the past president of the Ohio Council of Criminal Justice Education. The organization hosts a research conference each spring.

She has worked with the chief of the City of Beachwood, Ohio, Police Department where she experienced both the law enforcement and municipal government aspects of the industry.

She earned her doctorate in public administration and urban affairs, a master’s degree in public administration, a bachelor’s degree in political science and criminal justice, all from the University of Akron.

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