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WMU/Malta criminal justice degree may be launched

May 11, 2009

KALAMAZOO--Officials at Western Michigan University and the University of Malta are preparing to launch a collaborative degree program that will tap the resources of both institutions to provide a master's level criminology program to be taught at that Mediterranean nation's flagship university.

WMU President John M. Dunn and University of Malta Rector Juanito Camilleri met May 5 at WMU to sign a memorandum of understanding outlining a new dual Master of Arts in Criminology, Law and Public Policy. The collaboration is designed as a novel international and interdisciplinary venture--a dual master's degree program based on contributions from two universities, one in North America and the other in the Mediterranean region of the European Union.

"Now we'll be working to make this agreement come to life," said Dunn during the signing ceremony. "We'll take what's on paper and make it a reality. This will be a world-class opportunity for students at both institutions ready to take advantage of a program that will give them a unique set of credentials."

Camilleri pointed out that the agreement will offer an opportunity for the two schools to create a research and instructional environment based on differing cultural perspectives.

"The topic will be criminology with a Mediterranean focus," Cammileri said. "It will provide a melting pot of ideologies and perspectives."

WMU/Malta criminology program

The program's classes, which could begin in fall 2010, will be taught at the University of Malta by WMU faculty from the departments of Sociology and Political Science as well as faculty from the University of Malta's Institute of Criminology.

The program will include theory, research methods and data analysis as well as Mediterranean-based case studies on:

  • Gender, crime and justice
  • Environmental crime and justice
  • Surveillance and security
  • State and corporate crime

The curriculum under development reflects the combined strengths of American and European graduate programs, say two WMU faculty members who are instrumental in developing the program.

"It brings together the broad-based theoretical inquiry and literary emphases common to European programs along with the training in statistical techniques, spatial analysis and qualitative research strategies common within American programs," says Dr. Gregory J. Howard, an associate professor of sociology who teaches in WMU's criminal justice program.

"The Mediterranean context for research application provides the opportunity for acquiring a degree with wide application and, at the same time, specialized knowledge of this important region in world affairs."

Increasing international engagement

The partnership will also allow WMU to expand its connections in the Mediterranean, says Dr. Ashlyn Kuersten, associate professor of political science.

Partnering with the University of Malta to offer an M.A. in Criminology, Law, and Public Policy will provide rigorous criminological training at the graduate level that will increase the University's international engagement.

"By locating the graduate program at the Valletta campus of the University of Malta and recruiting students through the University of Malta's reputation in the European Union and the Mediterranean region, WMU will reach a new international constituency," says Kuersten.

The University of Malta traces its origins to a direct papal intervention in 1592. One of the oldest universities in the Mediterranean, it is a blend of the ancient and the modern and is influenced by many cultures and civilizations. Today, the university has some 10,000 students, 750 of whom are foreign students from nearly 80 different countries.


Contact Dr. Greg Howard at gregory.howard@wmich.edu for additional information on the new WMU/Malta connection.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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