Julie Raines is an associate professor and acting chair within the Criminal Justice Department. While the department chair position rotates every few years, Raines fills a consistently prominent role in the program. She teaches a number of popular criminal justice classes and conducts private research projects with interested students.
What classes do you teach and what topics are your favorite to cover in class?
I teach our capping course, sometimes I teach research methods and I teach a criminal justice ethics course. Sometimes I also teach a First Year Seminar called "True Crime in Film." That is very popular - people like watching movies.
I love talking about social justice issues - so race, poverty, gender, the Bill of Rights - things like that. I like it because students are very passionate about these issues. There's always a lot going on in the news and the students are more engaged in it. The discussion is more robust because they take an interest in it so they talk more. We have more discussion so it is a lot of fun to talk about.
What kind of insight/expertise can you bring into the classroom?
I practiced law so I have some practical experience. I have a law degree and a Ph.D. which is a little bit different. That brings in a different perspective, other than just a regular Ph.D. because those are two doctoral degrees. I practiced [law] in the areas of general civil litigation, business law (like starting companies and contracts) and I also practiced some criminal and family law. So a wide variety of things. I have always taught while I did those things so I would have relevant stuff to talk about in the classroom.
Why else would you encourage students to take your class?
We have a lot of good discussions. We also do a lot of hands-on, real life stuff. For example, in my research methods class today, instead of just learning about how to do surveys, I am going to have them create a survey that I am actually going to use. Then I will have them collect the data and analyze that when we get to that point in the semester. I try to give them actual practical hands-on work in the classroom.
So you also conduct research with students - what is that process like?
Students can get involved in research with me in two different ways. One is, if they have their own research interests, they can come to me and collaborate on collecting data in an area that they are very passionate about. The second way is if a student hears about research that I’m doing on something that I’m passionate about. Then students ask to be a part of that. They will come on board with my existing project and I will show them how to do research.
And you recently brought some of that research to a conference?
I went to the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS). They have a national conference every year and this year it was in Kansas City, Missouri. Both Doctor Merenda and I went. We each took a student that we are collaborating with on research and we gave presentations with the students. That is something that we have started doing in the last few years, taking students to these conferences.
What research subject have you found most interesting recently?
Right now I am working on sexual assault on college campuses. That would be an example of something that I teach about in the capping course and we cover it as a social justice issue. I currently have four students involved in that research and I have another couple students in the pipeline to replace those that graduate. It is a very big project so it requires a lot of students.
Why is it valuable for students to participate in something like this?
It's fun to interview people for qualitative research where you are doing open-ended interviews! It's fun to even collect survey data because you get to learn the answer to a research question before anybody else knows the answer. I have never done research where we didn't find something surprising that we didn't really expect and students really like that. Research is kind of exciting. I think it impacts everybody to try and find the answer to a question that they are curious about.
Written by Sarah Gabrielli '18
Profile Tags:Profile Type: Faculty
Academic School: Social and Behavioral Sciences
Campus: New York