Crime and Justice Summer Research Institute

Building a Diverse Community of Scholars

Each summer since 2006, young minority scholars from around the country have come to Ohio State to participate in the Crime and Justice Summer Research Institute.

During the institute, each participant completes an ongoing project, either a research paper or grant proposal, in preparation for journal submission or agency funding review. The institute culminates in a research symposium where participants present their completed research before a scholarly audience.


Over the past nine years, young minority scholars from around the country have come to Columbus for an intensive research-oriented mentoring experience to help advance their scholarship on crime and justice. The Crime and Justice Summer Research Institute (SRI) is organized by Ruth Peterson, professor emerita of sociology and former director of Ohio State’s Criminal Justice Research Center (CJRC), and funded by the National Science Foundation. Since 2006, the institute has been hosted by the CJRC.

“When we first entertained the idea of a program to support young underrepresented scholars in our field, we didn’t have a model of success to emulate,” said Peterson. “But we knew that we wanted to create a support network to address the isolation young scholars experience when they first start out and to provide opportunities for them to engage with senior scholars to gain valuable insight and feedback on their work.”

The SRI takes place at Ohio State in July. Over the course of three weeks, young scholars develop a research paper or proposal for submission, participate in professional development workshops and present their papers for critical feedback and review. Since 2006, nearly 70 young faculty members have come through the institute, though many more have applied.

Michael Lawrence Walker, University of Nebraska-Omaha, applied to the institute because of its reputation of grooming top scholars in the area of crime and justice-related research.

“I knew that the SRI was outstanding for mentoring, and it presented a great opportunity to work on a project and become embedded within a great network,” said Walker. “My mentor greatly improved my writing, thinking and my presentation of research.”

Nicole Martorano Van Cleve, Temple University, summed up her experience: “It is hard to overestimate the privilege of being surrounded by brilliant and supportive peers as you cultivate your ideas.”

Next year’s Summer Institute will be Peterson’s last. The responsibility will pass to Rod Brunson, associate professor, and Jody Miller, chair and professor, School of Criminal Justice, Rutgers University, as co-coordinators. Brunson is a former SRI Fellow. Miller received her master’s in women’s studies from Ohio State.

“It’s been a labor of love for me and one of the decisions in my academic career for which I am most proud.” said Peterson.
And well she should be.

Of the 68 individuals who have participated in the SRI in the last nine years, many have authored books and published articles in peer-reviewed journals and many more have been recognized by their academies with scholarly awards. Perhaps the best indicator of the intellectual merit of the program, however, is the fact that these scholars have forever changed the conversations around crime and justice.

About the CJRC

Ohio State’s Criminal Justice Research Center (CJRC) was established in 1989 as the focal point for research and intellectual work among faculty, graduate students, policymakers and practitioners interested in the study of crime, law and justice issues. Major projects include the Undergraduate Internship Program; Historical Violence Database; the Racial Democracy, Crime and Justice Network; the Summer Research Institute and Research Projects on the Social Context of Adolescent Risky Behavior and research on gun legislation and violent crime.