Two new professors will be joining the University of Rhode Island faculty as part of the new Criminology and Criminal Justice bachelor’s degree program, which begins its first semester in the Fall of 2017.

The new major will allow students to earn a bachelor’s degree specifically in criminology, rather than a degree in sociology, with a focus in criminology. Jill Doerner, the interim director of the new program and an associate professor of Sociology, said that the new major will combine classes from multiple fields of study.

“It’s been sort of three or so years in the making,” Doerner said. “It’s essentially just taking the current program we have now, which is the bachelor of science degree in Sociology, with focuses on criminology and criminal justice, and sort of changes it into an interdisciplinary program that adds classes from political science and psychology, gender and women’s studies, and a few from economics and chemistry, into something that we feel is more closely related to the criminal justice system itself.”

While the new program currently consists of classes that already exist at the university, Doerner said that she hopes the new faculty will help give the college a chance to create new classes to better suit students who plan to work in criminal justice related fields. If you are looking for an expert criminal lawyer visit

They’re actually both still graduate students, so I did put their names up on the website, just to show that we had hired them and stuff,” Doerner said “They’re sort of still navigating the process of being faculty, because they haven’t sort of started yet.”

Each of these new hires has experience in a different field that will help the college to create new classes, according to Doerner. One of the two applicants, Natalie A. Pifer, holds a degree in Law. Doerner hopes Pifer will be able to help expand available classes for students in the new program.

“We’re hoping that she can contribute to pre-law type of curriculum on campus, the pre-law society and [students] who are seeking that,” Doerner said. “Also that she could add some court based classes or things that have more to do with the law side of things.”

Pifer, who is completing an interdisciplinary PhD in Criminology, Law and society, said that she is most excited that the new program is also a combination of multiple disciplines.

“The thing that’s so interesting about the new program at URI is that it’s also going to be interdisciplinary,” Pifer said. “Also, I think it’s a really great opportunity to be starting my career in a place that’s going to be starting this new program. My first year there I will be teaching criminal justice and crime and delinquency. As time goes on I’m hoping to bring in more black letter law courses about criminal law and criminal procedures.”

While Pifer will allow the program to branch further into classes involving the law, Megan M. Parry, who just finished earning her PhD in Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State, will be bringing in a perspective of how criminology is affected by the media, Doerner said.

I actually started out in theatre, both working and studying it as a major, but later switched to criminal justice,” Parry said. “While theatre will always be my first love, once I had my first criminal justice class I knew I had really found my niche. [My experience] has given me a different perspective on my approach to looking at criminology and criminal justice. Particularly how the arts, media, and technology can shape perceptions of the CJ system.”

The new program is open to both new students and those who would like to switch into the major. Doerner warns, however, that the new program is configured to work with the new general education requirements and may not be feasible for people who are already in their junior year.

“It will be more feasible for some students,” Doerner said. “So for example, because of the new general education program that started this past fall it will be more feasible for students that are already under that program, rather than students who are say already juniors and under the old program.”