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Crimcast is a virtual resource devoted to critical conversations about criminology and criminal justice issues. Our blogposts, twitter feeds, podcasts and other content provide an overview of trends, research, commentary and events of interest to criminal justice practitioners, academics and the general public. CrimCast is sponsored by The Center for Crime and Popular Culture, St. Francis College, Brooklyn, NY.

Filtering by Category: Pedagogy

Creating an Antidote to Student Apathy: The News of the Week

Nickie Phillips

Earlier this year, Demetra Pappas JD, MSc, PhD published a peer-reviewed pedagogical methodology article designed to spark student interest in course material by facilitating student discussions around current events. The article appears in "The News of the Week," in Teacher Scholar:  The Journal of the State Comprehensive University, Volume 3, Number 1 pp. 45-51 and can be found here: Creating an Antidote to Student Apathy: The News of the Week (reprinted with kind permission by Demetra Pappas).

Teaching The Wire

Nickie Phillips

The September 2012 issue of Journal of Criminal Justice Education features an article by Ralph Taylor and Jillian Eidson on integrating The Wire into criminology courses. The article includes sample writing assignments and student reactions to the material. 

The abstract:

“A challenge in any undergraduate communities and crime course is helping students understand how macro-level context affects the lives of individuals. This article describes one approach based on three characters in Season 2 (“The Port”) of “The Wire.” A multi-layered framework is outlined which prominently features William Julius Wilson's unemployment thesis. Data sources for illustrating how different parts of the model apply to the surrounding region and neighborhoods close to the port are noted. The narrative arcs for three central characters in Season 2 are described and each is connected to Wilson's thesis. Even though in-class screening time was limited, students' written work and questionnaire responses suggested that the material clarified key concepts. The approach described here is just one approach of the many which are feasible for a macro-level communities and crime course, or for integrating “The Wire” into criminal justice or criminology courses.”

For more about teaching The Wire, check out our podcast, “All the Pieces Matter: Teaching The Wire to Criminology Students” featuring Vik Gumbhir here.

Taylor and Eidson's article, “The Wire,” William Julius Wilson, and the Three Sobotkas: Conceptually Integrating ‘Season 2: The Port’ into a Macro-Level Undergraduate Communities and Crime Course.” can be found here.

Flexing Your Rights on The Good Wife

Nickie Phillips

Flex Your Rights hosts a website that provides information to the public about the protection of civil liberties. For several years, I've used Flex Your Rights' "10 Rules for Dealing with Police" and "Busted!" DVDs as teaching tools for illustrating ways to protect one's constitutional rights during police encounters. They are superb. The videos cover car stops, stop & frisks, and home searches. You can purchase the DVDs here.

This week, Flex Your Rights notes that the season premiere of The Good Wife is inspired by a real-life traffic stop and search (a federal lawsuit regarding the officers' records of past stops is pending).

The video clip of the stop that inspired the show, Breakfast in Collinsville, is posted on YouTube:

10 Rules for Dealing With Police

"The gist: On December 4th 2011, StarTrek fans Terrance Huff and Jon Seaton are stopped illegally after a StarTrek Exhibition for suspected drug transportation in Collinsville, Illinois. Award winning filmmaker Terrance Huff does a breakdown of an illegal traffic stop and subsequent search involving a K9 Officer who has a questionable past."

For more, about Flex Your Rights and The Good Wife, go here.

Social Activist & Feminist Studies Prof. Bettina Aptheker to Speak at SFC

Nickie Phillips

St. Francis College will host a special lecture and Q&A with noted social activist and feminist thinker Bettina Aptheker.

When: Tuesday, Sept. 25 at 11:10am in Room 4202

Where: St. Francis College, 180 Remsen Street, Brooklyn, NY

Bettina Aptheker, a “red-diaper baby”, grew up in Brooklyn with a mother who was a union organizer and a father who was considered the leading theoretician of the Communist Party as well a noted historian whose work changed the dominant understanding of African-American history and slavery. Her first job as a teenager was in the home of W.E.B. DuBois.

While attending UC Berkeley, she was an activist in the W.E.B. Du Bois Club of the Communist Party USA, and, eventually, a leader in the Berkeley Free Speech Movement during the fall of 1964.

During the 1970s, Aptheker worked for the defense in the high-profile trial of Angela Davis, a long-time friend and fellow Communist Party member, and eventually wrote a book about the experience.

After partly retiring from political activism, Aptheker completed a Ph.D. in the History of Consciousness at UC Santa Cruz, where she helped develop one of the first the Feminist Studies departments and where she continues to teach today.

Aptheker will speak about growing up in Brooklyn, working with WEB DuBois, participating in the Free Speech movement,  and developing one of the first Feminist Studies programs.

SFC Lectures By and About Radical and Progressive Women

Nickie Phillips

The St. Francis College Institute for Peace and Justice & the Women’s Studies Center are pleased to announce their Fall 2012 Senior Citizens Lecture series. The series is devoted to lectures by and about radical and progressive women and will feature topics such as women and poverty, women and science, women and representations of fundamentalist Islam, and incarcerated mothers. For the month of September, the lectures will feature the following:

On September 11, Emily Horowitz, professor of sociology, will speak on “Women and the 2012 Election.”

On September 25, Bettina Aptheker, political activist, feminist, professor and author, will speak on her life as a pioneering activist in the Free Speech and Women’s Movements.

The lectures will be held at

St. Francis College, 180 Remsen Street, Brooklyn, NY

Tuesdays at 11:10am in Room 4202

The lectures are free and open to the public.

Technology and Education

Nickie Phillips

This post is not about criminology or crime and justice issues, but is about education and technology. This is useful if you are interested in learning more about the potential for technology in the classroom, improving workflow, and increasing productivity no matter the topic of study. The Mac Power Users podcast recently featured an excellent episode (#093) with guest Fraser Speirs from the Cedars School of Excellence in Scotland.

Speirs discusses the use of technology inside the classroom, some of the difficulties and rewards of implementing 1-to-1 programs, and how learning is evolving along with technological advances (e.g. why learning to type is not a necessary skill for the future, student creativity and productivity on the iPad, etc.).

For more on technology and education, check out Speirs podcast, co-hosted with Bradley Chambers, Out of School

This episode is also recommended for the discussion of the process of going paperless.

For a superb guide to going paperless, see David Sparks’ book titled Paperless. Sparks, along with Katie Floyd, co-hosts the Mac Power Users podcast.

UPDATE: Researchers and academic writers (who are Mac users or those looking to transition away from EndNote) may be interested in Episode 100 that provides a useful overview of Papers for Mac for researching, organizing PDFs, and cite-while-you-write.  I've been using Papers years and find it invaluable.

Popular Culture and the 4th Amendment: Jay-Z's 99 Problems

Nickie Phillips

Great analysis and advice from Caleb Mason on the 4th Amendment. "Jay-Z's 99 Problems, Verse 2: A Close Reading with Fourth Amendment Guidance for Cops and Perps." Saint Louis University Law Journal 56:567.

via Coudal Partners:

FORA TV interview with Jay-Z 99 Problems Decoded. Click here.

Integrating the Peer Review Process with Interactive, Multi-Media iBooks

Nickie Phillips

In her article "Response to 'Dinosaurs of Academia,'" Patricia Collins responds to PJ Rey’s argument that journals are the dinosaurs of academia. Basically, Rey recognizes that print journals are an outdated mode of knowledge transmission and are relied on too heavily in an antiquated, hard-copy “publish or perish” environment. Rey ultimately argues for scholars to embrace technological advances and engage in new media. Patricia Collins countered that the value of a journal does not lie in whether it is in “print,” but rather acknowledges that peer-reviewed work by experts is essential in maintaining academic integrity and sorting out the wheat from the chaff in a media-saturated society.

I find this discussion interesting in the context of new models of content distribution, specifically digital e-books, to students and laypersons. Thus far, digital e-books (including e-textbooks and digital versions of print journals) are basically facsimiles of hard copies that are read through an e-reader that likely has annotation capabilities. There has yet to be a successful merging of new digital technology with “old, traditional” forms of academic knowledge transmission--until now.

Last week, Apple released iBooks 2, a new version of iBooks for the iPad that allows display of textbooks and other books containing multi-media content. And, perhaps more significantly, introduced iBooks Author, an application for the Mac that allows creators to assemble a “Multi-Touch” book that takes full advantage of multi-media content including 3D photos, videos, notecards, presentations, quizzes and other interactive images. The books may be distributed for free, sold through iBooks, or exported to a more static format such as a pdf and distributed freely.

The program is designed specifically for the creation of textbooks and other media-heavy content. So far, iBooks Author has attracted major textbook publishers and there’s certainly a host of uses other than textbooks, such as product manuals and other types of tutorials, where this will be a valuable tool, but I see the potential for educational possibilities here as limitless. These interactive “e-books/textbooks” are the wave of the future in education, whether they are ultimately created by tools such as iBooks Author developed by Apple or a competitor.

But, my interest is in exploring ways of using the tool to distribute educational content such as peer-reviewed books and journals that lend themselves to multi-media content. I’m thinking specifically of journals devoted to the “visual,” featuring topics such as “crime and popular culture” or “crime and the media,” but there are limitless possibilities. For example, we may consider the possibilities for publishing research articles on areas as diverse as crime mapping, CPTED, or the ethnography of subcultures. I’m not suggesting visually-focused media would be appropriate for every criminal justice topic or even replace traditional journals, but they could certainly supplement them. And the research would potentially reach a much larger audience.

Which brings me back to Patricia Collins’ acknowledgement that the peer-reviewed process serves as a means of quality control. Ultimately, I am proposing that scholars fully embrace the inevitable--multi-media digital formats. However, it seems one path worthy of pursuit would be one that fully integrates the peer review process. Of course scholars are always free to self-publish, but why shouldn’t academic knowledge be disseminated in a format that is as advanced as the technology allows?

We now have an opportunity to rethink the boundaries of scholarly publications and take advantage of ways to best engage not just students, but the public, in issues of crime and justice.

*Disclaimer: I am aware of the various complications of this proposal, including proprietary concerns, issues of publishing on iBooks and relying on the Apple approval process, the idea that “everyone” would need to have an iPad to consume the content, and the realization that no other software company has yet come close to providing a means of content creation that is this easy, inexpensive, and widely available etc. However, I’ll leave those discussions for another day.


"All the Pieces Matter:" Teaching The Wire to Criminology Students

Nickie Phillips

Vikas Gumbhir, Associate Professor at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, speaks to us about using the David Simon-created HBO hit TV series The Wire as a criminological teaching tool.

Alvarez, R. (2004). The Wire: Truth be told. New York, NY: Pocket Books.

Anderson, E. (1994). The code of the street. The Atlantic Monthly.

Moskos, P. (2008). Cop in the hood: My year policing Baltimore's Eastern District. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Reiman, J. & P. Leighton (2009).  The rich get richer and the poor get prison [9th ed.].  Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Simon, D. (1992). Homicide: A year on the killing streets.  New York, NY: MacMillan.

Venkatesh, S.A. (2002). American project: The rise and fall of the modern ghetto.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Wilson, W.J. (1997).  When work disappears: The world of the new urban poor.  New York, NY: Vintage Books.

Int'l Crime, Media, and Popular Culture Studies Conference 2011

Nickie Phillips

Dr. Frank Wilson is a professor at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, the editor of the Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture, and a member of the CrimCast Board of Directors.  He is also the founding chair of the International Crime, Media and Popular Culture Studies conference.  In this podcast he discusses the upcoming conference on September 26-28, 2011, in Terre Haute.  He describes the important role the conference plays in supporting and showcasing interdisciplinary work on crime and media.




International Crime, Media and Popular Culture Studies Conference

Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture

Featured Speakers:

Gregg Barak, Ph.D. Eastern Michigan University

“Newsmaking Criminology, Policy Making, and Popular Culture: Reflections from the Margins"

Meda Chesney-Lind, Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa

"Girls Gone Wild: Media Misogyny and the Bad Girl Hype"

Peter K. Manning, Ph.D. Northeastern University

"The Drama of Policing: Modern Modes of Media Amplification"

Gary Potter, Ph.D. Eastern Kentucky University

"Constructing Crime in an Era of Globalization"

Raymond Surette, Ph.D. University of Central Florida

"New Media and Copycat Crime Among Offenders

Kenneth Tunnell, Ph.D.

Eastern Kentucky University


Terry Cox, Ph.D.

Eastern Kentucky University


Eddy Green

Eastern Kentucky University

“Scholarship, Songwriting and Social Justice: A Performance and Discussion”