Date of Award

January 2012

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Justice Studies

First Advisor

Preston Elrod

Department Affiliation

Justice Studies


The traditional model of education focuses on the preservation of the status quo that prevents students from the ability to think critically about their world. This has the potential to produce constraints as students not only become criminal justice practitioners, but also engaged members of society. The traditional model is particularly problematic in the criminal justice field due to the potential harms that can result. In an effort to contest the traditional model of education, a number of scholars including Paulo Freire and Henry Giroux advocate for a critical pedagogical model that liberates individuals from oppressive constraints in the education system. Research pertaining to the use of critical pedagogy has traditionally focused on the broad spectrum of the education system. Critical pedagogical research in specific fields, such as criminal justice, is severely limited. Barton et. al. (2010) are the sole scholars who have examined critical pedagogy and its impact on criminal justice higher education. Consequently, this paper examines the utilization of critical pedagogy in criminal justice education that provides avenues that foster autonomous thinking as students transform their world. Furthermore, this paper offers ways critical pedagogical practices can be implemented in criminal justice education. The utilization of critical pedagogy in criminal justice education enables employees to autonomously think and discontinue the perpetuation of a top-down, hierarchical structure that is present in the field of criminal justice. Critical practices in criminal justice can help liberate individuals from oppressive constraints, resulting in a more socially just world.