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Carpe Diem, Travel Abroad Students Prepare to Meet the ‘Guardians of the Peace’

Simone Johnson, Columnist

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Pace students will travel to Galway, Ireland in late May to learn about the country’s criminal justice system.

The Comparative Criminal Justice Systems travel course is another example of place-based learning, where this year’s cohort will learn about the history of Ireland’s judicial practices, compare the criminal justice systems between Ireland and the United States (U.S.), and analyze and discuss what the U.S. can learn from Ireland.

Dr. Joseph Ryan and Dr. Margaret Fitzgerald, both of the Criminal Justice and Security Department, will lead the course. Ryan was a New York City police officer in the South Bronx for 25 years before working in Internal Affairs, and then overseeing research after receiving his doctorate.

Once in Dublin, the group will take a train to the coastal city of Galway to visit An Garda Headquarters, Ireland’s national police service.

“Ireland is the only country in the world that does not use the term ‘police,’” Ryan said. “Instead they use ‘Garda Síochána’ or ‘Guardians of the Peace,’ which can be seen on the back of their jackets. They don’t use guns either, and, unlike a centralized system in the U.S. where there are many police stations, Ireland has a decentralized system where there is one main station.”

Garda Síochána is a community organization, which, according to its website, “has a long established tradition of working closely with communities all across Ireland.”

Ryan wants his students to be exposed to Ireland’s customs and government, which play a part in how criminal offenses like robbery and murder are handled. He also wants students to understand the differences between the U.S. and Ireland regarding the relationships between and perceptions of those in positions of protecting against crime and the public, so that students can be informed and make their own opinions about whether a centralized or decentralized model is better.

Students will have the chance to sit in on a courtroom trial and visit a probation office and prison. Later on, the group will take a ferry to the Galway Aran Islands to speak with one officer who is assigned to an island of 800 residents. The trip will end in Dublin where students will have the opportunity to explore Trinity College, recognized internationally as Ireland’s premiere university.

Dr. Ryan strongly believes taking the Introduction to Criminal Justice course should be a requirement for all Pace students.

“It’s important to know our rights,” Ryan said. “We have a democracy and a constitution and students need to have a better idea of the rules so that they do not get confused on what, for example, the Constitution means.”

Ryan wants his Criminal Justice students to graduate with knowledge and skills that may also be useful for non-criminal justice majors.

“Most people outside the U.S. know who President Obama is, but I don’t think many people know who the President of Ireland is. In this country, we need to know more about the world other than ourselves,” Ryan said. “Also, in many countries people speak two or three languages. That’s not really the case in the United States. Students should have language skills, knowledge in computer science, cyber security, forensic psychology, and sociology.”

Ryan continued to explain how students are the next generation, and should become educated about other countries and gain skills to be prepared to answer the tough questions surrounding criminal justice and international relations.

Next year, Comparative Criminal Justice Systems will take place in either Italy or Turkey.

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