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Classroom Press with Jess: SOC 352 – Criminology

Last March, I was having lunch with one of my best friends in between classes. She was taking incessantly about the class she had just come from, PSY 252 — Mind, Brain and Behavior. I was immediately intrigued as she explained that she was learning about how the different senses work, specifically taste and smell. There she was, a criminology and psychology major, teaching me and making me want to take a class I would never get to experience as a business major.

I thought to myself that there had to be a way for me to see what’s going on in other classrooms without actually being a student in that class. This concept served as the basic foundation for Classroom Press with Jess, the column that I’ve written since April.


Regardless of our backgrounds and differences, we are all here at Colorado State University to learn. We have come to college not just to get an education, but also to learn valuable life lessons and maybe pick up a little extra information along the way.

Although I am studying business, I’m curious as to what art students or engineering students are learning about in their classrooms, just as I am sure a veterinary student may be interested in what a health and exercise science student is learning or what a journalism major is working on.

Why should a field of study limit the subjects we are able to learn about? It shouldn’t, and it won’t. Each week, Classroom Press interviews a student or professor from a different class and shares a little bit about what is going on within that classroom, ranging from topics of discussion to current projects in progress.

Classroom Press with Jess aims to give philosophy majors a little taste of what might be going on for a chemistry student or to show a political science major what’s going on in the opposite realm of a biology student.

This week, I sat down with sophomore Peyton Griest to discuss one of her favorite and most exciting classes of this semester: SOC 352 — Criminology with KuoRay Mao.

“The class asks us to question why people become criminals and what defines a criminal,” Griest said. “We’re looking at the difference between crime and deviance as well as theories that help us understand the phenomena.”

“Criminology” stems from the Latin “crīmen,” meaning “accusation.” The field of criminology focuses on the study of nature, causes and prevention of crime on an individual and social level.

“We’ve only had a few classes but I’m already fascinated with the content,” Griest said. “I loved learning about the difference between crime and deviance.”

Crime carries legal sanctions and is always relative on the social context of the behavior, according to Griest.


“Crime is dependent on the interpretation of all parties that are involved,” Griest said.

Deviance is considered to be any activity that violates societal norms.

“It’s interesting because when most people hear that someone is deviant they think that said individual is inherently bad or criminalistic,” Griest said. “However, according to definition, it may just mean that they didn’t partake in societal norm.”

Whether or not a behavior or individual is considered deviant can very well depend on the cultural or social context of the situation. An action considered deviant in one culture or circumstance might be perceived as completely normal in another.

“If someone didn’t go to college after high school and instead chose to travel, they are deviant,” said Griest. “They are not deviant because what they are doing is wrong, but because they did not go to college like the majority of others choose to after high school.”

Griest said she looks forward to discovering the direction the class will go, and said she is excited to delve even deeper into the topic of criminology and the impact of the study on today’s society.

Collegian Reporter Jessie Trudell can be reached at or on Twitter @JessieTrudell.

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