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Sociology professor to discuss community and crime at Thiel College presentation


Sociology professor to discuss community and crime at Thiel College presentation

GREENVILLE, Pa.—Author and nationally-recognized sociologist Ruth Peterson, Ph.D., is the first speaker for Thiel College’s new criminal justice speaker series, which is being supported by alumnus Robert Crutchfield, Ph.D. ’71.

Peterson, Professor Emerita of Sociology and the former director of the Criminal Justice Research Center at The Ohio State University will speak as part of the College’s Common Hour programming at 11 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 21 in the Stamm Lecture Hall of the James Pedas Communication Center. Peterson is also co-author with Lauren J. Krivo, Ph.D., of “Divergent Social Worlds:  Neighborhood Crime and the Racial-Spatial Divide”

Peterson’s presentation will provide an overview of her work on what extent and why levels of crime differ across neighborhoods with different race and ethnic makeups. She will discuss the research that was part of the National Neighborhood Crime Study. She will identify questions asked and answers provided during first phase of that study as revealed in her book.

“Dr. Peterson will share her expertise in criminal justice research and will engage our students and employees and enrich their understandings how a person’s neighborhood influences what might happen in their life,” Thiel College President Susan Traverso, Ph.D., said. “We are grateful to emeritus professor at the University of Washington Robert Crutchfield for supporting this new visiting scholars program.  With his continued generosity, we look forward to hosting more experts in criminal justice each year.”

Peterson and Krivo did research into racial segregation in U.S. neighborhoods and found the degree of social and economic advantage or disadvantage that each community experiences—particularly its crime rate—is most often a reflection of which group is in the majority. The authors say in their book that, “race, place, and crime are still inextricably linked in the minds of the public.” Their book uses national data to compare local crime patterns in five racially distinct types of neighborhoods. Peterson and Krivo show how residential segregation creates and maintains inequality in neighborhood crime rates. The book is based on the authors’ groundbreaking National Neighborhood Crime Study. The study includes economic, social, and local investment data for nearly 9,000 neighborhoods in 87 cities.

“Dr. Peterson is a highly regarded and recognized scholar whose presentation of her work on racial and ethnic inequality and crime will undoubtedly be a fascinating and timely discussion for everyone in our campus community,” Assistant Professor of Sociology Jared Hanneman, Ph.D., said. “Regardless of occupation or discipline, everyone is affected by inequalities, and Dr. Peterson’s discussion of how crime rates differ across neighborhoods will give a new insight into the differences along racial and ethnic lines.”

For the past 16 years, Peterson has been a coordinator, with others, of the activities of the Racial Democracy Crime and Justice Network, a National Science Foundation project that seeks to broaden participation and perspectives in research on crime and criminal justice. Dr. Peterson has contributed to research on legal decision-making and sentencing, capital punishment and deterrence, and patterns of urban crime. Most recently her work has focused on explaining how and why patterns of neighborhood crime vary across communities of different colors.

Peterson received her; A.A. degree in social science from Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland; her B.A. and M.A. degrees in sociology from Cleveland State University; and her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Crutchfield is a professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Washington. He wrote “Get A Job: Labor Markets, Economic Opportunity, and Crime,” which was published in 2014. Crutchfield is the former vice president of the American Society of Criminology, the former chair of the American Sociological Association’s Crime, Law, and Deviance Section, and a former member of the American Sociological Association’s committee. He was also a member of the National Research Council’s Committee on Law and Justice from 2005–2011.

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Thiel College is an independent college founded in the Lutheran tradition. Located in Greenville, Pa., the College offers 60 majors and minors, 24 varsity sports, and an 11:1 student-faculty ratio. The College is also home to a Master of Science in speech-language pathology, a Leadership Master of Business Administration and a Management Master of Business Administration. Both master’s degree programs offer innovative and accelerated five-year paths which allow students to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in five years. The speech-language pathology program also has an accelerated 15-month graduate-level program. The M.B.A. program also has a 12-month post-graduate program. A dedicated faculty paired with dynamic research and internship opportunities produce numerous graduate school and job placements. Coeducational from its beginnings, the College remains committed to combining tradition with innovation.

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