University of Calgary

Crash Course

Erin Gibbs van Brunschot’s Sociology 499.03 class, pictured in front of the law courts, got a better understanding of a day in t
Erin Gibbs van Brunschot’s Sociology 499.03 class, pictured in front of the law courts, got a better understanding of a day in the life of a Crown Prosecutor and a police officer. / Photo courtesy Erin Gibbs van Brunschot

Sociology 499.03—Disorder and Crime Field School

A new sociology block week course, which debuted this fall, is exposing students to the workings of various “agents of social control.”

Over five days, students discuss the different contexts in which crime and disorder occur, while considering the factors that determine how certain behaviours are or are not labelled as crime.

“Organizing and experiencing this class with the students was excellent,” said Erin Gibbs van Brunschot, associate professor in the Department of Sociology. “I chose the things I am interested in and that I thought students would want to—and should—know. Seeing the students’ excitement and enthusiasm during the entire week, as well as experiencing the welcoming and generous responses from the agents we dealt with, was gratifying and inspiring.”

Students were off campus for most of the week and gained a better understanding of what a day in the life consists of for a bylaw officer, police officer and Crown Prosecutor, said Gibbs van Brunschot.
In order to receive credit, students must also sign up for Sociology 499.04: Disorder and Crime Seminar, which includes assignments and papers that address related issues but from a theoretical point of view.

“The field school was the experiential component of the course, whereas the assignments and papers yet to come will require that a sociological filter be put back on, so to speak,” said Gibbs van Brunschot. “The challenge for students will be to begin to meld practice and experience with theory.”
— Meghan Sired