Space and place
People behave in time and space. All victimization and crime events, people’s perceptions of crime and disorder, and their emotional and behavioral reactions to crime and related matters, have spatial and temporal elements. Faculty members at Temple University are on the cutting edge of research focusing simultaneously on spatial and temporal features of crime, reactions to crime, and victimization. Projects consider social, physical, and cultural features of settings ranging from individual addresses to regions of the country and use a wide array of techniques and modeling approaches. In the past twenty years many leading criminologists have called for a shift in focus from “whodunit” to “wheredunit.” Temple faculty members are one of the few research groups found anywhere which simultaneously considers who, where, and when.
The Department is actively concerned with issues of social justice. Reaching beyond concern for fair treatment, rights and justice in individual cases, we engage in theory building and research activities that address the role of social institutions and social relationships in defining, generating and responding to crime and related harms. This entails examination of wider political, economic and social arrangements that can contribute to or inhibit crime and other conflict, as well as ongoing attention to the role that race, class, gender and other social distinctions play in the exercise of power and social control. We thus work to increase understanding of the nature and effects of oppression, exclusion and inequality and seek means of building social solidarity and community capacity for promoting individual and community well-being. This includes efforts to better specify and explore alternative models of community and restorative justice.
How criminal justice policies and practices are formed and implemented have enormous implications for how society approaches crime control and social problems. Our Department has a long tradition of scholarship that considers criminal justice policy development, implementation, and evaluation. Our research adheres to rigorous methodological and theoretical frameworks, and carefully considers the policy implications. Accordingly, our faculty is actively engaged with policy makers and agency staff at all levels of government, the criminal justice system, and community organizations. The translation of research to practice and policy is a core part of our Departmental mission. We want our work to help policy makers develop and implement effective policies, programs, and legislation informed by rigorous and theoretically-based research. Beyond ongoing research activities, Department faculty achieves these goals through participation on policy advisory committees, Boards of Directors, public debates, legislative testimony, presentations to legislatures and executive branch staff, and media work.
As social problems emerge and evolve, sometimes in response to existing policies and practices, new solutions are needed. Similarly, researchers are often discovering limitations to the methods of scientific inquiry that are employed on behalf of theory testing, policy and program evaluation, and knowledge building. Innovation is central to our work, both in terms of participating in the creative process and in terms of evaluating innovations created by others. Studies undertaken by our faculty that involve innovation include the application of dynamic systems simulation modeling to evaluate criminal justice policy reform; improving methods for coordinating crime information and criminal intelligence; developing methods for analyzing multiple levels of analysis, including (but not limited to) individuals, programs, and neighborhoods; using agent-based simulation research to test routine activity theory; development of a decision support tool to diagnose jail crowding problems, and redefining the nature and structure of organized crime.