National Science Foundation-funded program to provide a unique experience for undergraduates with postdoctoral aspirations


Communities, Crime, & Criminal Justice in Detroit (C3JD), a new program led by the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology faculty, provides unique research experiences to undergraduates with postdoctoral aspirations.

The National Science Foundation-funded program intends to provide students from traditionally under-represented backgrounds with a chance to develop their research skills alongside Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology faculty mentors. In addition, the experience serves to provide students with an understanding of careers in academia and potential pathways they can follow.

This summer, the nine undergraduate students participating in the intensive 8-week program are acting as junior researchers on one of three research projects led by Department faculty.

Students paired with Jennifer Wareham, Ph.D., are studying Detroit citizen’s attitudes about intervening in scenarios where they witness crimes occurring. The group with Yuning Wu, Ph.D., reviews the literature on police legitimacy, citizen cooperation with police, and survey research methodology. Finally, students working with Charles Klahm, Ph.D., are exploring the impact of Detroit’s demolition program on repurposing parcels for communal use and changes in residents’ perceptions of their community, crime, justice, and their quality of life, more generally.

Lecturer Danika Hickling, Program Director for C3JD, said each project would provide students a valuable research opportunity and provide invaluable mentorship and insights before graduate school.

“The purpose is to take students who are interested in graduate school and research, and specifically students who are thinking about a Ph. D. and walk them through an actual research project,” Hickling said.

Students will partake in enrichment activities and workshops to supplement the research experience, including opportunities to interact with criminal justice professionals and researchers and practice for the GRE. Several social and cultural activities, including online virtual trips and information sessions, will further enhance the experience. In addition, students receive a weekly $600 stipend plus funds to purchase technology or software necessary for their work.

Lecturer Hickling said she hopes that the program will eventually evolve to a point where students can present posters at a criminal justice convention. She also hopes that the program could result in a publication opportunity for students to put on their resumes when applying to graduate school.

The program, which is open to students nationwide, has been funded for three years of implementation. Hickling said that while C3JD is entirely virtual this summer, she hopes it can happen in person next year.

“It will make a bigger effect when we're in person, and we can have students fly in and stay in our dorm rooms and eat our food and get to see our campus and Greater Detroit,” Hickling said.

Students interested in participating in the program in 2022 can visit for further details.

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