The Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice launches two new programs and an academic journal

By Stacie Mwangi and Terry Odhiambo

On July 10, 2023, the School of Humanities and Social Sciences (SHSS) achieved a significant milestone for the University and the nation. The unveiling of two groundbreaking programs, The Master of Arts in Criminal and Transitional Justice, Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, and the Africa Journal of Crime and Justice, is a new journey that gives hope to the Criminal Justice System locally and in the region. As institutions seek to train students to be agents of positive change and champions of justice, this milestone portrays USIU-Africa as pacesetters. Amongst the distinguished guests that graced the event were Mr. Irungu Houghton, Director, Amnesty International, Kenya; Ms. Frances Ngubeni, JUTA representative; Professor Collins Odote, representing the Attorney General, Hon. Justice William Ouko, representing the Chief Justice of Kenya and Dr. Serge Brammertz, the UN Under Secretary General, International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals. Also in attendance were the Director of Kenya Prisons Staff Training College in Ruiru, Dr. Hassan Wafula and Mrs. Florence Mueni and her team from the Department of Probation and After Care Services, faculty staff, students, and Alumni of USIU-Africa.

The Chair of the Department, Dr. Simeon Sungi, narrated that the creation of the two programs had taken a long time, but finally, the process was over. He highlighted that the MA in Criminal and Transitional Justice was one of its kind in East and Central Africa. He further thanked the Dean of the SHSS, Prof. Martin Njoroge, for the support he had given the Department to ensure that the courses and the Africa Journal for Crime and Justice were ready. Prof. Martin Njoroge, Dean of SHSS, reiterated the School and the University’s commitment to developing new programs that promote academic excellence and research. He shared that the Africa Journal of Crime and Justice was the second journal to be launched at USIU-Africa, noting that both journals now exist at the University and are housed in SHSS. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academic and Student Affairs, Professor Munyae Mulinge, in his opening remarks, lauded the efforts of the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice (DSCJ) for their commitment to creating new programs that respond to the needs of society. He highlighted that the New BA in sociology will graduate students as double majors: a double major allows students to graduate with a single degree with two areas of specialization.

Mr. Irungu Houghton, the Executive Director of Amnesty International, gave his remarks on the possibilities the new courses create. He noted that the work criminal investigators, prosecutors, pathologists, journalists, human rights defenders, and the judiciary do is critical to this country. And the launch of the new programs could be a start of a new generation of professionals that would provide the leadership the country needs. Mr. Irungu Houghton extended heartfelt congratulations on the successful accreditation process for launching two new programs at the University. He praised the Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and the Master of Arts in Criminal and Transitional Justice programs for achieving dual accreditation. The successful launch of these programs during the event marked the commencement of a significant and influential journey for USIU-Africa and the future of global society. He expressed that these programs are a beacon of hope for a brighter tomorrow, with the students emerging as the potential catalysts for positive change. Mr. Irungu Houghton recognized the enormous effort, devotion, and competence required to accomplish such a feat, emphasizing the importance of this achievement for the University and its commitment to academic excellence.

Professor Collins Odote commended the School for introducing these courses, as they will contribute to achieving legal reforms and provide a platform for multidisciplinary legal education. Representing the Attorney General, he noted that the launch of the Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, Master of Arts in Criminal and Transitional Justice, and Africa Journal of Crime and Justice is significant for the Attorney General, who serves as the government’s primary legal advisor. He encouraged the Department to ensure that the journal is genuinely international by avoiding inbreeding.

Ms. Frances Ngubeni Juta, representative, congratulated the DSCJ for the outstanding achievement and reaffirmed JUTA’s commitment to working with the Africa Journal for Crime and Justice. She explained that Juta’s legal journals provide a place for the expression and scrutiny of changing law both within and outside South Africa. Juta’s law publications, which cover a wide range of legal themes and contain the opinions and critiques of academics, are available in various traditional print and research-enabling electronic formats, with workplace applicability and research ability at the forefront.

Hon. Justice William Ouko expressed sincere thanks and humility in response to the faith and confidence shown upon him by USIU-Africa, which appointed him chair of the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice’s advisory board. He acknowledged the immense responsibility that comes with the role and stated that he intends to depend significantly on the collective wisdom and efforts of the board members to accomplish success.

The Chief Justice of Kenya, Hon. Justice Martha Koome, through her excellent message read by Hon. Justice William Ouko, commended the University for its initiative in launching two new academic programs and a journal to enhance understanding and research in criminal justice. This commendation stems from the belief that these endeavors will facilitate a more profound comprehension of crucial issues within the discipline and encourage dialogue and collaboration among diverse stakeholders. By fostering such partnerships, the University is paving the way for developing practical solutions to tackle the challenges and capitalize on the opportunities encountered in criminal justice. She further expressed that she is confident that the new academic programs and journal will provide a forum for in-depth research and discussion of the complex international challenges. She hoped that the new programs would delve deeply into these discussions, analyze their complexities, and offer contributions that can change the trajectory of justice in Kenya and beyond.

A brief documentary screening on “What led to the genocide in Rwanda?” was a monumental session during the launch ceremony. The segment was complemented by the keynote speaker, Dr. Serge Brammertz, the UN Under Secretary General, International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, who linked his journey as a prosecutor to this new program and gave a glimpse of what the future looks like for students who are upcoming practitioners. He noted that “when it comes to Transitional Justice, understanding that ‘Justice delayed is not justice denied’ is very important. This is one of the practicalities that proves that time is not a limiting factor in the pursuit of justice and the lack of expedited processes does not mean impunity.”

The two new programs will be offered from September 2023

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