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Bridging Disciplines Programs Debut New Criminal Law, Justice & Inequality Certificate

BDP students at Poster Session

The Bridging Disciplines Programs (BDPs) have never rested on their laurels. Since their foundation in 2002, these Undergraduate College programs have offered a steadily increasing number of certificates that allow Longhorns to pursue interdisciplinary learning on a wide range of topics beyond their majors. This spring, the BDPs add a 17th program to their roster: the Criminal Law, Justice & Inequality certificate.
Students who participate in BDPs take courses taught by professors across the Forty Acres and complete an internship or research project to earn a certificate in their chosen subject matter. In the case of this newest certificate, they’ll be exploring how society defines crime and reacts to behaviors that meet that definition.
“This certificate program builds on a growing, cross-disciplinary strength at the University,” says BDPs Director Jeanette Herman. Criminal Law, Justice & Inequality will offer students a deep dive in the United States’ criminal legal system, both historically and contemporarily. “As the faculty worked together to develop this program,” Herman explains, “they emphasized the need for a program that not only gave students the opportunity to learn about the system and how it works, but also to understand the implications of the system in relation to inequalities in our society.” In the spirit of the BDPs’ far-reaching and collaborative nature, this certificate will include courses in sociology, law, history, government, social work, education, and ethnic and gender studies, among other disciplines.
The new certificate is not just for students who want to go on to careers directly connected with the criminal legal system. “The system touches many different aspects of life. This BDP might be particularly useful for students considering careers in law, medicine, social services, education, policy, advocacy, as well as considering future graduate studies,” explains Becky Pettit, the BDP faculty panel chair who helped develop the program’s curriculum. Pettit and her fellow panelists proposed the Criminal Law, Justice & Inequality certificate as a way to address a gap in the University’s offerings—the current Government Department minor in Law, Justice and Society and the College of Natural Sciences’ Forensics certificate serve students with either broader legal or narrower scientific interests. Before the creation of this BDP, there was not an undergraduate minor or certificate with a focus on the criminal legal system in a social context.
Applications to join the Criminal Law, Justice & Inequality certificate program are now open and due March 7. Admitted students will begin their coursework in Fall 2024. The entire BDP team is eager to see who applies. “I know there is a lot of student interest in this topic—both in the legal system in its current form, and in the possibilities for reform—and I’m excited that the certificate will offer students the chance to learn about this important topic in an interdisciplinary, experiential way,” says Herman. “Students in this program will gain more than just a credential.”
Curious if the Criminal Law, Justice & Inequality certificate program might be right for you? Visit the BDP website for details, including a complete list of courses and requirements.