A major in criminology and investigation is the latest program added to support the Forensic Science Initiative at West Virginia University. WVU s Faculty Senate approved the major Jan. 12, and it will be available to students in Fall 2004.

Offered through the Division of Sociology and Anthropology in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, the criminology and investigation major will focus on the social side and human dynamics of crime.

“I am excited to include this new major among student offerings as it complements and expands our academic breadth in forensic studies,”remarked M. Duane Nellis, dean of the Eberly College.

The major has two primary concentrations. The criminology focus provides an understanding of society’s ever changing definitions of conformity and deviance, the social foundations of law, the operation of the criminal justice system and urgent problems such as juvenile delinquency, corporate crime, hate crime, terrorism and organized crime. Students in this concentration develop a new understanding of the public order and public policy.

The investigation focus examines both the formal and informal processes that affect an investigation, including the collection and presentation of evidence, the social relations that shape the fate of criminal and civil cases, and how forensic experts and attorneys negotiate the often conflicting demands of science and legal advocacy in the course of jointly investigating, evaluating and preparing legal cases.

A strong criminology and criminal justice curriculum was previously available to WVU students; however, such study was only available as an area of emphasis within the sociology major. The new major builds on and refines the curriculum elements already existing and accompanies the forensic and investigative sciences major. New courses dealing with the investigative processes in the criminal justice system and the sociology of legal investigations have been designed for the new major.

“Development of the major was funded in part by the Forensic Science Initiative at WVU with congressionally directed funds from Sen. Robert Byrd’s office administered through the National Institute of Justice,”said Max M. Houck, director of the Forensic Science Initiative that is housed in the WVU Research Office.

Houck said the major adds depth and breadth to WVU ’s focus on forensic science.

“It will be great for the students to have the entire package here, from investigation to the laboratory,”Houck said.”It will benefit our academic and research efforts.”

WVU s fingerprint identification and biometrics degree programs, established in 1997 in cooperation with the FBI , have carved a niche among universities across the world in educating and training tomorrows fingerprint and biometrics identification professionals.