Two Schools Partner to Form the College of Social Work & Criminal Justice

Introducing Florida Atlantic University’s Newest College

On July 1, 2020, Florida Atlantic University (FAU) officially welcomed its newest college: the College of Social Work & Criminal Justice, which encompasses the Phyllis & Harvey Sandler School of Social Work and the School of Criminology & Criminal Justice. These two sister schools have formed a strong and lasting partnership rooted in a shared commitment to advocating for justice, mobilizing resiliency and promoting equality across our one human race.  

Our nation is at the intersection of, firstly, an unprecedented global pandemic that has further illuminated the racial, health and economic disparities in our country and our world; secondly, an international movement for much-needed change in response to police brutality against Black people; and thirdly, an extremely divisive time in our nation’s history when so many are desperately seeking meaningful transformation and connections. 

The College of Social Work & Criminal Justice is well-positioned to make a deep and lasting impact in these and many other challenging areas, including reentry and reintegration, child welfare, healthy aging, mental health, the opioid epidemic, addiction, human trafficking and many others critical social problems.  Our nationally and internationally acclaimed faculty are passionately working to find answers through education, scholarship, and applied research and public service activities, as well as to inspire and prepare tomorrow’s social work and criminal justice leaders, scholars, practitioners and policymakers to effect positive change in the world. 

The College of Social Work and Criminal Justice is headquartered in the Social Science building on the Boca Raton campus and also offers classes at the University’s satellite campuses in Davie and Jupiter.  Our college offers a variety of degree programs, including: 

The college also offers three specialization certificate programs in the Sandler School of Social Work:

As well as four post-graduate certificate programs:

School of Criminology & Criminal Justice

Sandler School of Social Work

We are also proud to have long-standing partnerships with more than 350 community agencies from Miami-Dade to Vero Beach, giving our students boundless opportunities to develop meaningful service learning experience and job readiness skills in their chosen field before they graduate.

The College of Social Work and Criminal Justice also houses a number of research and service centers within the Sandler School of Social Work, including the Child Welfare Institute, the Healthy Aging Academy and the Robin Rubin Center for Happiness and Life Enhancement.

The immense faculty expertise and strong community partnerships within our two schools produce graduates who are prepared to make a difference.  Our alumni enter the fields of social work and criminal justice fully trained to analyze, implement and evaluate criminal justice and social welfare policies and practices; address discriminatory systems and processes; provide direct services to vulnerable populations; restore justice and promote equal access to care.   

For more information
Social: @FAUSocialWorkCJ on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter
Video: YouTube

Important School Update: Contact Information

In response to the Coronavirus, the School of Criminology & Criminal Justice is continuing with remote instruction through the Fall 2020 semester, and our staff and faculty are working remotely from home. If you have any questions or concerns that need to be addressed, please send an email to Mrs. Edeline DuFour at or call the College of Social Work & Criminal Justice Dean’s Office at (561) 297-4170. Your message will be routed to the appropriate staff or faculty member and we will reply promptly. If you have a question about a class you are taking, please contact your professor as the first step in addressing your question.

Be Safe and Stay Well!

WATCH: “Community Conversations” Kickoff Event

Thank you to the more than 150 students, faculty, staff and friends in the community who joined us for the kick-off of “Community Conversations: An Illuminating Discussion Series at the Intersection of Social Work and Criminal Justice”.

Naelys Luna, Ph.D., MSW, interim dean of the College of Social Work & Criminal Justice, opened the event with a warm welcome and overview of our college, followed by an insightful presentation by Wendy Guastaferro, Ph.D., interim director of the School of Criminology & Criminal Justice, on the humble but mighty origins of public defenders.

Our guest panelists included Carey Houghwout, Palm Beach County Public Defender; Marcia Daley, social worker for the Public Defender’s Office; and Sevonte Miller, FAU social work alumnus and author. The conversation focused on the racial and socioeconomic inequities within the criminal justice system and how the fields of social work and criminal justice are partnering to help heal the disparities and bridge the divide. The event wrapped up with thought-provoking questions from the audience, fielded by Cassandra Atkin-Plunk, Ph.D., associate director of the School of Criminology & Criminal Justice.

The motto of our discussion series is “when we know better, we can do better”. We sincerely thank our resident experts for sharing their stories and showing all of us the many ways social workers and criminal justice professionals are now working hand in hand to help make our criminal justice system more equitable for all residents.  We also thank them for sharing practical advice for how we, as a community, can raise our voices to effect positive change.

We hope you will make plans to join us for our next “Community Conversation” in early December 2020. Details coming soon.

Watch the Video

PHOTOS: First MSCCJ Professional Development Event of 2020

The Graduate Committee hosted its first Professional Development Event of the semester in February for MSCCJ students. Drs. Lincoln Sloas and Mara Schiff discussed the differences between the thesis and capstone research route. Two recent alumni, Katherine Wilson-McCoy and Krystal Garcia, spoke with students about their respective experiences in each track. A special thank you to our presenters for sharing their wisdom with our students!

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Important College Update: Exciting Changes Coming Soon!

We are pleased to announce that, beginning in Fall 2020:

  • the School of Architecture and the School of Public Administration will join the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters;
  • the School of Urban and Regional Planning will join the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science;
  • and the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice & the Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work will partner to become the new College of Social Work and Criminal Justice (new website coming soon!).

Check out our comprehensive list of Frequently Asked Questions for helpful answers related to the transition.

The Sandler School of Social Work and the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice naturally pair well together because of their shared vision for effecting social change, driven by their considerable overlap in curriculum and research areas, as well as their impact objectives.

In much the same ways, the Schools of Architecture and Public Administration will find more symmetry with their colleagues in Graphic Design and Political Science within the Schmidt College of Arts and Letters. The same is true for the School of Urban and Regional Planning, which complements the Geoscience and Environmental Sciences departments within the Schmidt College of Science.

Remember that for now, it’s business as usual, with an added splash of excitement as we all look forward to this fresh, new chapter!

One Play Taught 700+ People How to Spot Human Trafficking

On Sunday, February 9, 2020, more than 700 people attended one of two performances of “Only One”, the play on human sex trafficking written by senior Criminal Justice student Abigail Howard. The riveting 45-minute play tells the story of three teens who become victims of sex trafficking and share how they got there – one lured by a false opportunity to become an actor; one who was meeting his online boyfriend for the first time in person; and one who had been groomed to believe she was in a meaningful relationship. The name of the play comes from the sobering statistic that only one percent of trafficking victims are rescued.

Following both performances, expert panelists shared invaluable safety tips with parents and youth in the audience.

  • Dr. Calli Cain, producer, panel moderator, and Assistant Professor in the FAU School of Criminology and Criminal Justice
  • Pastor Alfredo Castro, Ministry Relations Director of Glory House of Miami
  • Special Agent Katina Hernandez, Homeland Security Investigations and South Florida Human Trafficking Task Force
  • Sgt. Carlos Lisboa, Coordinator of the Palm Beach County Human Trafficking Task Force
  • Alex Ortiz, Director of Business Development for the Child Rescue Coalition
  • Dr. Heidi Schaeffer, President of the Human Trafficking Coalition of the Palm Beaches
  • Alma Tucker, International Network of Hearts

Attendees learned that victims and traffickers represent all genders, ages, races, income levels and sexual orientations, and that Florida ranks third in the nation for reported cases of trafficking. The panelists also shared safety tips – such as the importance of keeping gaming and smartphone devices in a common area of the home, to have open dialogue with kids of all ages on how to establish safe physical and information boundaries; and where to go for more information:

Panelists also encouraged all attendees to add the National Human Trafficking Hotline 1-888-373-7888 to their phone contacts and report any suspicious behavior. As Special Agent Hernandez said, “If it turns out to be a false alarm, great. But if it turns out to be trafficking, you’ve saved a life.”

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Congratulations Fall 2019 Graduates

On Friday, December 13, 2019 we watched as 227 bachelor’s graduates, 19 master’s graduates and 2 doctoral candidates walked across the commencement stage to receive their diploma from the College for Design and Social Inquiry at Florida Atlantic University.

To all of our graduates, it has been our pleasure to have you in our classrooms and to watch you grow and learn in your programs.  Whether you are continuing your education or ready to apply your knowledge in the world, we look forward to watching your next chapter unfold. Remember that we are here for you and rooting for your success each step along the way.

Be well and best wishes!

  • Bachelor of Architecture
  • 105 Bachelor of Arts
  • 13 Bachelor of General Studies
  • 15 Bachelor of Public Management
  • 17 Bachelor of Public Safety Administration
  • 59 Bachelor of Social Work
  • 8 Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning
  • Bachelor of Urban Design
  • Master of Public Administration
  • Master of Science
  • Master of Urban and Regional Planning
  • Doctor of Philosophy

Want to explore the degree programs in the College for Design and Social Inquiry at FAU? Call our Academic Advising Team today: (561) 297-2316

Fall 2019 Commencement Gallery

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In Our Voices: Lived Experiences of Mothers with Substance Use

Dr. Heather Howard and Dr. Marianna Colvin recently presented a PhotoVoice study which seeks to implement positive social change through the use of participants’ voices and documentary-style photographs. This particular PhotoVoice study hopes to shift maternal policy on substance use from punitive to more public health approaches.

The presentation included a panel discussion with women who used documentary photography to share their struggles with substance use while parenting and navigating dependency court. The discussion was guided by Dr. Howard and Dr. Colvin’s community-based research and the recent research article, “Mothers with Opioid Use Disorder: Moving Toward Justice, Wellness & Engagement” co-authored by Drs. Howard and Dr. Wendy Guastaferro. Featured speakers included Niki Tartal, Meagan Bailey and Miranda Duncan.

“I can’t thank Dr. Howard, Dr. Colvin, Niki, Meagan, and Miranda enough,” said a forensic social worker who works for the Office of Criminal Conflict and Regional Conflict 4th District.  “Those three women shared so candidly and beautifully. The panel discussion just talked about the insights they took away from your session. The attorneys truly took so may issues that were spoken about to heart. Niki, Meagan, and Miranda did true advocacy work today.”

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‘Invisible’ Documentary Screening Recap

Did you know that Florida ranks 3rd in the nation for reported cases of human trafficking? That’s one of the many interesting things that the nearly 85 viewers learned at this week’s screening of the moving documentary “Invisible”, produced by Place of Hope and hosted by the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice and the FAU Institute for Peace, Justice & Human Rights.

The screening was followed by an informative Q&A with local experts including (from left): Laura Cusack, Place of Hope’s Human Trafficking Prevention & Education Coordinator; Cali S., human trafficking survivor/advocate and member of the Broward Human Trafficking Coalition; Alex Ortiz, Director of Business Development at Child Rescue Coalition; and Dr. Calli Cain, Assistant Professor and human trafficking educator.

2019 Woman of Distinction

Abigail Howard, Criminal Justice undergraduate student, was recently named a 2019 Woman of Distinction by Soroptimist International for her work to combat human trafficking. The organization works to improve the lives of women and girls through supporting programs and people who are leading to social and economic empowerment.

Nominated by Dr. Calli Cain, Assistant Professor, Abigail was selected from five nominees in the Education category as a 2019 Woman of Distinction for her work to combat human trafficking. She has written a play on human trafficking called “Only One”, which will run at 2 PM and again at 6 PM on February 9, 2020 in the FAU University Theatre.  Abigail also runs her own non-profit organization, Project Micah 6:8, which partners with safe houses that care and support survivors of human sex trafficking.

The awards ceremony was hosted at Boca West Country Club with approximately 300 people in attendance.  Congratulations, Abigail!

Sharing Anti-Bullying Research on the Capitol Steps

Dr. Sameer Hinduja was asked by the State of Pennsylvania to share his research on empathy, resilience, and school climate with Senators, Representatives, and other dignitaries in the State Capitol Rotunda in late October. In doing so, he encouraged policymakers to embrace asset-building and strength-based approaches.

MSCCJ Professional Development Series

Drs. Gabriel Cesar, Vaughn Crichlow, Lisa Dario, and MSCCJ Program Coordinator Dr. Cassandra Atkin-Plunk hosted the first MSCCJ Professional Development Series event of the semester: “Thrive not Survive: Tips and Tricks for Successfully Navigating Graduate School” on Wednesday, September 25th. Faculty presented on various topics related to how to thrive in graduate school: successful goal-setting, building healthy professional relationships, coauthoring and publication, data collection and management, competition and collaboration with peers, and rejection, criticism, and grit.

The event was open to all CCJ graduate students and graduate assistants. Here’s what a few of them had to say:

“I just wanted to say thank you for hosting this event. It was awesome! I’m very happy to be part of a program that cares so much about their students.”

“I thought our Professional Development Seminar was excellent.  All three speakers were thorough and reassuring.”

“I really appreciated what all of you and your colleagues had to say on Wednesday evening.”

“I look forward to more events like this.”

Stay tuned for more events like this one coming your way soon!

Images from the Event:

Division of Research Mentoring Program

In order to foster the exchange of ideas and best practices in funded research, senior colleagues with significant extramural funding experience have the opportunity to be paired with tenure-track and research faculty members who wish to be mentored and commit to submitting a fundable research proposal at the end of the one-year mentoring period.

The proposal submitted by Dr. Wendy Guastaferro (mentor) and Dr. Laura Backstrom, Asst. Professor in Sociology (mentee) as part of the mentoring program was awarded! Dr. Backstrom is going to work on a grant proposal for a study that will use a mixed methods design to assess decision-making processes in Early Childhood Courts with a focus on the role of community members (Guardian ad Litems, foster parents, and advocates) and social network analysis to examine the impact of the court’s actions on children whose parents come before the court.

The proposed study will follow a subsample of children through age 8 and utilize court and Department of Children and Families data to examine child well-being outcomes.

Dr. Morgan Cooley (mentee) has partnered with Dr. Nancy Jones (mentor) in Psychology on a proposal that was also awarded! Dr. Cooley’s work will be working to identify and understand risk and protective factors at the individual, family, and system levels in order to improve the well-being of foster youth, parents, and child welfare professionals.

Mentors receive $1,000 for research support, and mentees receive a course release, up to $2,000, plus travel funds up to $500 to visit a Program Officer.

Applause All Around

Seth Fallik, Assistant Professor, and Mara Schiff, Associate Professor, were awarded two of the three 2019 Presidential Awards – Fallik for Research/Scholarship and Schiff for Teaching. Schiff was also the runner-up for the third category of Engaged Service.

Congratulations, Seth and Mara!

MSCCJ Brown Bag Event: Career Development

On April 11, 2019, the Criminology and Criminal Justice Graduate Committee hosted its second Brown Bag event for students seeking their Master of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice (MSCCJ) degree. This event focused on career development and featured presentations from Samantha Yorke, Associate Director of FAU Career Development Services, and Deputy Chief Shawn Backer from the Coral Springs Police Department. Both did an excellent job informing students of career opportunities and services available to them throughout their student journey at FAU.

MSCCJ students, be on the lookout for the next Brown Bag event invite coming soon!

Explore FAU 2018 – College Expedition

More than 100 prospective students and family members visited the College for Design and Social Inquiry during the “College Expedition” portion of Explore FAU 2018.  It was a great opportunity for Owl hopefuls to visit the colleges and departments they’re most interested in and speak with faculty and existing students about what it would be like to be a student in their respective degree programs.

Congratulations, Class of 2019!

On Thursday, May 2, 2019, 289 bachelor students, 139 masters students and 9 doctoral students – including the inaugural cohort of the first Doctor of Social Work program (DSW) in the state of Florida – accepted their diplomas from the College for Design and Social Inquiry at Florida Atlantic University. To all of our graduates, it has been our pleasure to have you in our classrooms and to watch you grow and learn in your programs.

Whether you are continuing your education or ready to apply your knowledge in the world, we look forward to watching your next chapter unfold. Remember that we are here for you and rooting for your success each step along the way.

As you move forward into your future, remember the words of Dr. Manny Gonzalez, DSW Program Coordinator and Associate Professor in the Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work, “Know what you know, know what you don’t know, but know what you know well.”

Be well and best wishes!

  • 28 Bachelor of Architecture
  • 121 Bachelor of Arts
  • 21 Bachelor of General Studies
  • 10 Bachelor of Public Management
  • 18 Bachelor of Public Safety Administration
  • 62 Bachelor of Social Work
  • 18 Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning
  • 11 Bachelor of Urban Design
  • 2 Master of Nonprofit Management
  • 5 Master of Public Administration
  • 1 Master of Science
  • 127 Master of Social Work
  • 4 Master of Urban and Regional Planning
  • 2 Doctor of Philosophy
  • 7 Doctor of Social Work

Want to explore the degree programs in the College for Design and Social Inquiry at FAU? Call our Academic Advising Team today: (561) 297-2316

Spring 2019 Commencement Gallery


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Gangs and Spirituality: Global Perspectives


Ross Deuchar, Ph.D., affiliate professor in FAU’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, and 2016/2017 Fulbright scholar-in-residence, just recently published his sixth book, Gangs and Spirituality: Global Perspectives.

Deuchar is recognized internationally for his groundbreaking work on youth violence, gang culture, and crime, as well as procedural justice in policing and on gang distance and violence reduction strategies.

Listen in as Deuchar discusses his new book on the BBC Radio show, “Thinking Aloud”.

Professor Shares Research Findings with Federal Commission on School Safety

Dr. Sameer Hinduja, Professor in the FAU School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, is internationally recognized for his groundbreaking research on the impact of the virtual world and social media on violence and student safety.  He recently shared his expertise with the Federal Commission on School Safety headed by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in Washington, D.C.

The Cyber & Classroom Connection

Hinduja kicked off the meeting by sharing findings that there is significant overlap between students who experience cyberbullying online and those who experience bullying at school.

“In our most recent study of a nationally-representative sample of approximately 5,700 middle and high-school students across America, 34% say that they have been cyber-bullied during their lifetime,” Hinduja said. “In addition, 12% revealed that they had cyberbullied others during their lifetime. So that’s one-third of youth across America indicating they’ve been bullied online, and about one in ten stating they have bullied others online. We also know that more than 80% of those being cyberbullied are also being bullied at school, indicating a strong overlap.”

Four Recommendations for Long-Term Change

After sharing that the ad-hoc strategies schools often employ are lacking in terms of lasting impact, Hinduja shared his four recommendations to the Federal Government for comprehensive and systemic change:

  1. Create a positive school climate of connectedness.
  2. Modify social norms to reward responsible social media behavior.
  3. Tap into students’ knowledge to help set achievable standards.
  4. Implement resilience programming for empowerment.

In closing, Dr. Hinduja recommended that the Federal Government provide more personnel and funding to schools, add funding for research to make sure initiatives are optimized, seek better ways to get best practices into the hands of those who need them, and finally, promote accountability at the school, state, and federal levels.

“This will help ensure that adequate resources are provided so that our students can thrive, and our communities can flourish,” Hinduja said.


Click below to watch Dr. Hinduja make his recommendations to the Federal Commission on School Safety.

Battling Back from Bullying

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Excerpt below from “Battling Back from Bullying” which aired on and features research from Dr. Sameer Hinduja, a professor of criminal justice at Florida Atlantic University.

… Sameer Hinduja, PhD, Professor of Criminology and Director of Cyberbullying Research Center at Florida Atlantic University is a cyberbullying expert and knows how much words can hurt.

“They don’t as compared, for example, to a punch, or a kick, or a push or a shove, but still absolutely they can cut deeply,” Dr. Hinduja said.

That’s why parents should help teach their children resilience.

“Resilience is bouncing back from adversity,” continued Dr. Hinduja. … Watch the full piece and read the video transcript on

Teens Are Cyberbullying Themselves. Why?



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Excerpt below from “Teens Are Cyberbullying Themselves. Why?” written by Sasha Jones for and featuring research from Dr. Sameer Hinduja, a professor of criminal justice at Florida Atlantic University.

Hannah Smith was a 14-year-old living in Lutterworth, England, when she began receiving hateful messages on the social-networking site A few weeks later, she committed suicide.

Convinced their daughter was a victim of cyberbullying, her family called for the question-and-answer site to be shut down. But when officials investigated what happened, they found that 98 percent of the messages sent to Hannah could be tracked back to her own IP address…

Read the full article on

SCCJ Hiring New School Director

College for Design and Social Inquiry at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL

The School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) invites applications and nominations for the position of School Director to begin spring or fall 2019 on the Boca Raton campus.

The Director, together with the Dean of the College for Design and Social Inquiry, is responsible for cultivating and enhancing scholarly excellence, setting intellectual standards, and establishing academic priorities. The School is comprised of 13 tenure-track/tenured faculty, three full-time instructors, adjunct instructors, and administrative assistants.

The primary responsibilities of the Director will include providing:

  • administrative and intellectual leadership
  • oversight of the School’s academic programs and budgets
  • support for faculty, staff, and undergraduate and graduate students

The next Director will be visionary about the School’s future and opportunities, and able to build on the active research and scholarship agendas of faculty, undergraduate and graduate education programs, and current engagement with the community and discipline. Click here to see a complete overview of the School Director position.


Click here to begin your application.

To see all available positions, please visit


SCCJ Faculty: By the Numbers

Did you know? The FAU School of Criminology and Criminal Justice faculty have published more than 25 books, made more than 500 presentations at conferences around the world, published more than 300 journal articles and book chapters, and received more than $8.2 million in sponsored research funding from agencies, including:


  • The Florida Department of Corrections
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services federal flow through
  • The Palm Beach County Criminal Justice Commission flow through from the MacArthur Foundation
  • The National Institute of Justice federal flow through
  • The GEO Group

Keep up the great work!

Associate Professor Becomes VLEOA Board Member


Adam Dobrin, Associate Professor in the FAU School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, was recently voted to the Board of Directors for the Volunteer Law Enforcement Officer Alliance (VLEOA) 501(c)3 charitable organization.

The VLEOA is an international entity that exists to assist in the formation, expansion, and training of state, county, and city volunteer law enforcement units.  It also works to promote awareness of the role of the volunteer officer in providing for the safety of the citizens to their communities.


Adam Dobrin, fourth from right, along with representatives from nine different countries’ volunteer police forces

“I am humbled and honored to be supported both by the membership of the VLEOA and the leadership of FAU in my continued academic and professional endeavors related to volunteer policing,” Dobrin said. “Community engagement is a critical aspect of the mission of FAU, and by volunteering to serve the VLEOA and my community, I also serve the students and mission of FAU.”

Dr. Dobrin has numerous professional and academic articles and conference presentations on volunteer policing topics.  He also won FAU’s first Presidential Award for Outstanding Faculty-Led Community Engagement for Engaged Service in 2017 for his volunteer work as a road patrol deputy with his local sheriff’s office’s reserve unit.


Congratulations, Class of 2018!

On Thursday, May 3, 2018, nearly 300 bachelor students and 140 masters students accepted their diplomas from the College for Design and Social Inquiry at Florida Atlantic University. To all of our students, it has been our pleasure to have you in our classrooms and to watch you grow and learn in your programs.

Whether you are continuing your education or ready to apply your knowledge in the workforce, we look forward to watching your next chapter unfold. Remember that we are here for you and rooting for your success each step along the way.

As Chairman of the FAU Board of Trustees Anthony Barbar said during his undergraduate commencement speech, “It’s now our turn to learn from you.” Be well and best wishes!

  • 21 Bachelor of Architecture
  • 127 Bachelor of Arts
  • 16 Bachelor of General Studies
  • 14 Bachelor of Public Management
  • 23 Bachelor of Public Safety Administration
  • 70 Bachelor of Social Work
  • 16 Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning
  • 8 Bachelor of Urban Design
  • 9 Master of Nonprofit Management
  • 6 Master of Public Administration
  • 12 Master of Science
  • 106 Master of Social Work

Want to explore the degree programs in the College for Design and Social Inquiry at FAU? Call our Academic Advising Team today: (561) 297-2316

Spring 2018 Undergraduate Commencement

Spring 2018 Graduate Commencement

Professor’s Research Uncovers Key to Combatting Cyberbullying

It turns out that the key to combatting cyberbullying is… resilience. That was the major finding of a recent nationally-representative survey of 1,200 teens, conducted by Dr. Sameer Hinduja, cyberbullying expert and professor at the FAU School of Criminology and Criminal Justice.

“Everything hinges on the messages we tell ourselves and the beliefs we internalize about the adversity we face,” Hinduja said.

According to his research, victims of cyberbullying who lack resilience tend to act out in concerning ways.

“Whether it’s self-harm, interpersonal harm, violence, or deliquency,” Hinduja said.

On the other side of the coin, victims who possess resilience tend to find the courage to either block or report the cyberbully on their social media channels. The bullying also tends to not wound the victim as deeply when resilience is present.

“[The more resilient kids] didn’t really internalize the harm, and it didn’t really markedly affect their ability to learn and feel safe in school,” Hinduja said. “Parents, mentors, and other youth-serving adults must remember that we are ill-preparing adolescents for adulthood if we are always swooping in rescuing them from every social and relational struggle they face.”

“Hopefully, we can provide them a safe, supportive environment in which to learn, experiment, and develop a toolbox of skills to help them deal with haters, trolls, and anyone else who wants to tear them down – which is inevitable as they achieve success in their lives.”

Watch the full news report here.

Two CCJ Faculty Win Presidential Awards

2018 Presidential Award Winners

2018 Presidential Award Winners

Dr. Fred Bloetscher, from the College of Engineering and Computer Science, and Dr. Cassandra Atkin-Plunk and Dr. Sameer Hinduja, from the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice in the College for Design and Social Inquiry


Florida Atlantic University hosted the 49th annual Honors Convocation on Wednesday, April 18, 2018.  The annual ceremony recognizes the University’s most outstanding students and faculty members. Student honors include prestigious merit-based scholarships, among other academic awards.  Faculty honors include researchers/scholars of the year, as well as teaching and advising awards.

Dr. Cassandra Atkin-Plunk, Assistant Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, won the Presidential Award for Outstanding Faculty-Led Community Engagement for Research for her work with the Florida Department of Corrections evaluating an inmate reentry portal, a GEO grant evaluating continuum of care, and two funded grants with the Palm Beach County Commission evaluating an offender reentry program and alternatives for frequent users of the Palm Beach County Jail.

Dr. Sameer Hinduja, Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, won the Presidential Award for Outstanding Faculty-Led Community Engagement for Service for his work with tech giants like Microsoft and Facebook on cyberbullying and safe social media.

2018 FAU Mentor and Mentee of the Year

Dr. Lincoln Sloas

Dr. Lincoln Sloas

Congratulations to Dr. Lincoln Sloas, Assistant Professor in the FAU School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, for being named the 2018 FAU Faculty Mentor of the Year – a completely student-nominated and student-elected award through FAU’s Mentoring Project.

College often means new experiences, responsibilities, demands, and decisions. For many students, it’s not always easy to navigate their new world and balance challenging course loads. Mentorship can make all the difference in a student’s success.

“Having someone to talk about classes, but also life in general, is very important,” Sloas said. “Sometimes students don’t have that outlet, so having someone like me can help them progress in their college career and in their life. I find great value in taking stock in students’ lives at FAU and post-graduation, and then keeping track so I can watch their careers flourish.”

Ms. Hanna Cedillo, a second-semester freshman, was named Mentee of the Year. Cedillo and Sloas have been working together as mentor and mentee throughout the 2017-18 academic year.

“His mentees know he bends over backwards to provide them with information, opportunities, and resources,” said Dr. John Smykla, School Director and Professor. “He also encourages them to produce quality work, and he does it with humility. Dr. Sloas is open to learning from students, rather than always looking for opportunities to advance his own work, and his award is well-deserved.”

Scottish Students Arriving for Summer

In alternate years of the Criminology and Criminal Justice Scotland study abroad program – coordinated by Dr. Cassandra Atkin-Plunk – criminology and criminal justice students from Edinburg Napier University and the University of West Scotland come to one of the three participating consortium universities (Florida Atlantic University, University of West Florida, and Washburn University).


Some 30 Scottish students, and three or four faculty, will arrive at FAU June 10th for a two-week visit. FAU CCJ faculty will present lectures, and the students will visit CCJ agencies and talk with CJ professionals, as well as soak up some sun and fun during their off time before heading home on June 23rd.


“We are extremely excited here in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice to host the Scottish students and faculty this summer,” Atkin-Plunk said. ” Last summer, our students spent two weeks in Edinburgh, Scotland at Edinburgh Napier University, where they heard lectures from various professors, as well as attended tours of the Scottish Parliament, Police Scotland Headquarters, a youthful offender institution, the Sheriff’s Court, and the High Court.”


“Our students had life-changing experiences in Scotland,” Atkin-Plunk continued. “It was such a fantastic experience for all involved, and I hope to provide a similar program for the Scottish students when they visit FAU and South Florida.”

SCCJ Hosts the Spring 2018 Internship and Career Fair


The School of Criminology and Criminal Justice hosted the Spring 2018 Internship and Career Fair.  Over 50 municipal, county, state, federal and private justice agencies participated.  The West Palm Beach Police Department’s Cops and Scholars program brought students and staff from Forest Hill High School to campus to experience the Fair, enjoy lunch, and tour the FAU Police Department and Stadium.  Go OWLS!

2017 Paralegal Association of Florida Scholarship Awards

Carrera Waller (shown left) and Michelle Bourbon (shown right), students in the Paralegal Certificate Program, received the 2017 Scholarship awards given by the Paralegal Association of Florida, Palm Beach County chapter.

The awards were presented at the monthly Palm Beach County chapter dinner meeting in West Palm Beach in November 2017. Presenting the awards is Tina Contino, the president of the Palm Beach County chapter of the Paralegal Association of Florida.

SCCJ Faculty Wins Springer Outstanding Article Award

45th Annual Meeting of the Southern Criminal Justice Association

Criminology and Criminal Justice professors John Smykla (shown left) and Vaughn Crichlow (not shown) along with their colleagues Matthew Crow and Jamie Snyder from the University of West Florida received the 2017 Springer Outstanding Article Award for their research, “ Police Body Worn Cameras: Perceptions of Law Enforcement Leadership.”

The award was presented at the 45th annual meeting of the Southern Criminal Justice Association in New Orleans, LA in October 2017.  Presenting the award is Professor Wesley Jennings (second to left), editor of the American Journal of Criminal Justice.


SCCJ Professor Sameer Hinduja serves as Fulbright Specialist

My Experience as a Fulbright Specialist on Bullying and Cyberbullying Prevention

This past summer, I served as a Fulbright Specialist at the Anti-Bullying Centre (ABC) at Dublin City University (DCU) in Dublin, Ireland. It was an amazing experience. I just wanted to take a few minutes to share what it involved, who I spent time with, and how it made an impact – not just short-term, but hopefully long-term as well. I’m already looking forward to going back!

We know that with the almost ubiquitous use of social media and smartphones by adolescents these days across Ireland and most other countries, certain forms of teen technology misuse continue to cause problems at school, in communities, and on social media. These issues have made many Irish educators, parents, and other youth-serving professionals very nervous as it relates to their negative impact, and very overwhelmed in terms of knowing what to do.

My responsibilities generally involved serving these constituent groups in any way I could. I provided bullying and cyberbullying prevention trainings to various audiences – including academics, legislators, policy makers, IT professionals in schools, Fortune 500 companies like Facebook and Intel, teachers, social workers, and others who need to understand the best practices that are evolving on the topics we study. I have already kept in touch with so many from my trip, and know that the relationships will continue because our goal and passion is the same: to build and maintain safe spaces offline and online in which kids can thrive on every level.

In addition, my time was spent initiating and dialoguing about research collaborations with a number of lecturers, professors, and graduate students both in the Dublin area as well as across the country. To be honest, it was crazy to see that various professionals who work with adolescents wanted to spend face time with me and just chat about their projects! I didn’t know specifically how I could be of help given the fact that they are based in Ireland and have to deal with context-specific problems, but I realized that these issues involving teens are pretty much universal. It turned out that I did have a lot to say and a lot of value to add when we spent time together and dialogued about best practices and future directions at the intersection of teens and technology.

Finally, I spoke extensively to the print, radio, and TV media, generating €328,818.00 in publicity value for my host (Dublin City University), my home university (Florida Atlantic University), and the Fulbright Foundation. It felt like I was being shuttled to this interview or that interview every single day – which again was shocking and unexpected to me.

I remember frequently thinking to myself: What can I add that hasn’t already been said? How can my words really make a difference to Irish educators, Irish mental health workers, and Irish families? How can I inspire Irish youth to set themselves up for an amazing future by connecting and interacting with others online with empathy, wisdom and kindness? How can I get them to develop resilience to face social and relational hardships in their life, so they can be overcomers and do epic things as they move into adulthood? Here again, the words came and I honestly believe I contributed a lot of value, instead of just adding to the noise with random feel-good inspirational statements or other fluffy points that sound great but lack substance.

I’d like to give a shoutout to my main host, Dr. James O’Higgins Norman, who heads up the ABC. It was remarkable how my work and the work of his Centre at DCU fit so seamless and beautifully together. It was wild how quickly I was able to settle into my days at the Centre, and it felt like I had been a part of their team my entire life. Every day was productive and enjoyable because of their warmth, competence, and fun dispositions. And I felt like my presence there made a difference. This is all I could have hoped for with my Fulbright experience: to serve in a role that has significant and far-reaching meaning for my host, and for the host country.

As I reflect back upon the experience, the Fulbright award allowed me to contribute in significant ways by educating youth professionals on prevention and response strategies to address online misuse among adolescents, and encouraging them to promote the positive uses of technology through specific, meaningful strategies. I believe that the introductions and connections I have made will foster deeper partnerships that will contribute to various noteworthy projects we hope to undertake. And I feel that simply being there – fully present and available to so many in Ireland as a resource – was tremendously valuable to those who reached out or heard me speak, and I promised to continue to help them moving forward.

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