As the Inland Empire’s Hispanic population continues to grow, so has the urgent demand for linguistically and culturally prepared criminal justice professionals.
Cal State San Bernardino will offer a new Criminal Justice Spanish Certificate program for students majoring in criminal justice professions beginning with the 2021 fall semester, thanks to a U.S. Department of Education’s Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language program grant of nearly $340,000.
Here are some details on the program.
Why is this program so important and timely?
The Certificate in Criminal Justice Spanish is designed to provide specialized Spanish communicative skills to students planning to serve in public safety and social service agencies. In doing so, the certificate will help overcome language barriers that impede successful communication and trust between these agencies and Spanish speaking communities.
Being able to understand and be understood empowers Hispanic communities to reach out and request assistance when needed. The need for such a program is becoming increasingly important with Hispanics now being a majority in the Inland Empire, and public safety agencies seeking to strengthen community ties and to build trust.
Courses offered in the certificate program provide exposure to Hispanic culture and customs so students can gain a better understanding of the needs of members of Spanish speaking communities. This program also trains future criminal justice professionals to work with victims, witnesses, and suspects who may have limited English language skills.
Working directly with non‑English speakers through a shared language establishes trust and rapport and helps establish a good working relationship between communities and organizations.
Today, the ability to communicate in Spanish is seen as an asset by companies, institutions, and government agencies that are faced with serving increasingly multilingual jurisdictions. Skills obtained in this program will make students more marketable and competitive, which will complement any major in the social and behavioral sciences.
About the certificate program
The certificate program will launch in the 2021 fall semester by the Department of World Languages and Literatures in collaboration with the Department of Criminal Justice. The program with second-year and third-year Spanish courses will help students gain specialized Spanish proficiency at an intermediate level or higher.
This will broaden their communicative skills attained in first-year courses in elementary Spanish. The main goal is to address the urgent need for linguistically and culturally prepared law enforcement workers serving the rapidly growing largest minority group in the state: Hispanics.
A grant by the U.S. Department of Education funds the development of zero-cost textbooks for students completing these courses and the development of an optional international experience in Spain, beginning in summer 2022.
With this certificate and a criminal justice degree, students will be better prepared for a variety of career paths in the criminal justice system, including jobs at federal agencies, as well as state and local departments in the Inland Empire, a region with a large and growing Hispanic population.
“Students in the criminal justice and related fields can now combine their field of study with language study and gain specialized language and culture competency, which will ultimately make them much more competitive in the workforce and help them deal with the Spanish-speaking population,” said Carmen Jany, CSUSB professor of Spanish and linguistics in the World Languages and Literatures Department, who directs the program.
“This is a much-needed project that will benefit so many students and have a great impact on the Hispanic community in the Inland Empire and beyond,” Jany said.