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MVNU’s new online criminal justice program takes restorative approach to policing

MOUNT VERNON, Ohio (Feb. 8, 2021) — An innovative approach to the study of criminal justice has been launched by Mount Vernon Nazarene University’s School of Graduate and Professional Studies. The new bachelor’s degree program mixes on-line learning with real-life exposure while incorporating restorative justice thought processes into careers like law enforcement, corrections, probation, investigation and more.

“While an online criminal justice degree isn’t necessarily innovative, our approach is going to be,” said Dr. Thad Hicks, program director. “Many colleges and universities that offer criminal justice take a very straight forward approach — just training individuals to work in the field. We are going to do this but also think about it through a more restorative, and I believe, Christian approach. While we will cover the traditional criminal justice tenants, we’re going to try to figure out a way to keep people from going in and out of prison, re-committing crime, victimizing people, etc.”

The online criminal justice bachelor's degree program at MVNU teaches students job-relevant skills they can take with them to a future career that leaves a lasting impact on communities. Public outcry demanding changes to policing policies and procedures was considered when creating the program and techniques taught to bring a new perspective on policing.

“Issues of justice and policing can be found on any news broadcast you turn on or any newspaper you open. Society is asking for a more informed, educated, and forward-thinking individuals to work in the criminal justice field. We think this new program at MVNU is going to answer these requests,” said Hicks.

The program pushes the envelope of on-line learning to instill skills to prepare students to integrate classroom knowledge into real-life applications that can be transformative to the criminal justice industry. Criminal justice majors dive into cases, learn how to uncover clues critical to solving crimes, and attain a well-rounded sense of the justice system. They discover what it takes to uphold the law and gain valuable insights into criminology, victimology, and ethics along the way.

“We are adding a more experiential dimension to our online degree program that is not found at many universities or colleges. We don’t want to just deliver a canned course. We would like it to push the student to a deeper understanding of the material. This is going to require some of the real-life exposure,” Hicks said. 

The course was created with input from those with years of experience in the industry.

Hicks brings experience in both emergency management and criminal justice fields. He has worked as a sworn police officer since 1998 with several Ohio cities and was director of emergency disaster services for The Salvation Army. Hicks also developed and directed the emergency management and disaster management program at Ohio Christian University for more than 10 years and started the same program at MVNU in 2021.

“We are thrilled to have Dr. Hicks on board to offer students real world applications of what they are learning in their courses,” said Ryan Stagg, Executive Director of GPS Enrollment. “His years of experience in higher education, and in the field, position him to effectively train students in the ways of restorative justice. MVNU is grateful for Dr. Hicks’ leadership, and we look forward to expanding our impact with this new online degree in criminal justice.”

To learn more about this online degree and start the process to a new career click here.

Mount Vernon Nazarene University is a private, four-year, intentionally Christian teaching university for traditional age students, graduate students, and working adults. With a 327-acre main campus in Mount Vernon, Ohio, MVNU emphasizes academic excellence, spiritual growth, and service to community and church. MVNU offers an affordable education both in-seat and online to more than 2,100 students from 42 states and nine foreign countries.