Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee
Intern Blog: Justice Studies
'Peace Wall' in Belfast, May 2012

‘Peace Wall’ in Belfast, May 2012

The longer I’ve been interning at CJPAC, the more times I’ve been asked how a degree in “Justice Studies” at the University of Guelph-Humber will help me in my chosen career. I’ve also been asked if I regret not going to a different university considering how young a school Guelph-Humber is. Although it is frustrating to have to answer the same question more than once, I can understand why people are curious.  I am going to try and address what I think below, and if anyone has any questions please feel free to post a comment!

I come from a family with many lawyers, so from a young age I was involved in discussions about law, order, and justice. One of my cousins worked in Washington DC and he would talk about the inner-workings of the political system and how important it was that people in a democracy work to make their voices heard. I remember being young and having my dad explain to me the importance of democracy and talking to me about members of my family who had been killed in military service throughout American history.  This list included my dad’s uncle who perished during WWII.

Dad also taught me about taxation and representation and how important it is to know how the government is making your money work for you. Lastly, some of my friends from high school became police officers and were kind enough to take me under their wing and teach me about policing in a small town.

While I’d always had an interest in Justice, I wasn’t certain I had made the right choice of program until the beginning of my studies at the University of Guelph-Humber.  Many of my profs are former police officers, and those that aren’t have other experiences in the CJS (Criminal Justice System). Because our classes are very small we get to talk to our profs one-on-one and they get to know the names of their students as well as our varied interests.

One of my profs is very interested in philosophy and we once had a conversation about the importance of politics on policing as well as the ways deviance is regulated and controlled. In my classes, we have had discussions about the political system and the progress of laws as they are created, implemented and enforced.

We have also learned about the views philosophers like John Locke and Michal Foucault hold regarding discipline, law, and punishment. These discussions have helped me determine that having a foundation in how the criminal justice system is vital when it comes to working in the political system.

Last summer, I was lucky enough to take part in a trip to Ireland with my class.  We visited many cultural sites including the home of the Northern Ireland Assembly, and, while in Belfast, had the opportunity to talk to community leaders who are helping heal the deep rifts left by the Irish Troubles. I was afforded many opportunities to talk to local people and hear their stories, which left a significant impression on me.  I am acutely aware that not many schools have professors dedicated to setting up trips like this one and to making them accessible to students.  It was truly a life changing experience.

I consider myself very lucky to be attending a small school while working towards my degree.  I have been at big schools before, and it is really nice to have your prof call you by name and ask you how you are if you run into him in the hall.  At Guelph-Humber, my profs are not only teachers, but role-models for the student community, and they make an effort to have a cup of coffee with students and discuss any problems, personal or professional, the student needs help working through. I know that this environment of mutual respect has become rare in a time when, for the most part, students are in 600 person lecture halls and are frequently taught primarily by a TA.

All things considered, I would choose Justice Studies and Guelph-Humber again in a heartbeat. If anyone would like more information about my program, I would be thrilled to answer any questions I can or provide resources for more information.

Until Next Time!

Rachel