1School Of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Griffith University, Mt Gravatt campus, Australia
Criminology has not been short of commentators reflecting upon the nature of their profession. The present research employed threshold concepts theory to explore contemporary criminal justice education in one large school of criminology and criminal justice. The initial focus was an attempt to map powerful (integrative and transformative) concepts in undergraduate teaching. However, it seemed also that this ostensibly pedagogical inquiry had important things to say about university-based criminology in Australia. A sense of ‘fragmentation’ underpins much of what respondents had to say in terms of current intellectual spaces and specialisations, theoretical tensions, and research methodologies. Fragmentation is not, of course, necessarily counter-productive: Indeed diversity between scholars may present abundant opportunities for co-operative research, writing and teaching, as well as professional and public activism. However, the results of the present study indicated the kind of disciplinary flux and uncertainty for which criminology has developed something of a reputation. Do these results simply continue a tradition of professional self-absorption and ‘navel gazing’ as some commentators would claim? Perhaps so, but it seemed important to investigate the competing and complementary views among scholars that emerged from the present case study. The findings contribute hopefully to informed discussions about the current and future condition of criminology.
Kerry Wimshurst teaches Crime & Media, and Youth Justice. His research interests are in criminal justice education, and criminal justice history. He has been a member of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Griffith University, since its inception in 1991.