Liberal Arts Students Learn About Criminal Justice System in the Netherlands

The College of the Liberal Arts offers many embedded courses to Penn State students. Embedded courses are semester-long classes that include an optional short-term international experience related to the course content.
Published: Apr 16, 2019

Students in the courses CRIM 197 and CRIM 422 participated in an embedded program called “Victimization in the Netherlands” and went to Amsterdam, Netherlands, over spring break. The program focuses on victimization and the different policy problems that the Netherlands experiences compared to the United States. Barry Ruback, professor of criminology and sociology, led this year’s trip.

The Netherlands has progressive law enforcement as well as advanced victim services available to citizens; however, there are still anti-immigrant sentiments that surround their society. Students prepared for the trip by learning about the Netherlands’ criminal justice system, and had the opportunity to see aspects of the system first-hand on the trip.

“The best part of my experience was definitely getting to explore not only a foreign country, but the criminal justice system within that country as well, and being able to compare and contrast their criminal justice system with the criminal justice system of the United States,” said Alexis Croce, a criminology major.

Students also saw many sights of Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, and visited the Anne Frank house.

“We walked around Amsterdam and were shown numerous hiding places that were used by Jews during World War II,” said Grace Ecklund, a student majoring in criminology and economics. “This was so surreal as we seem to forget that Anne Frank and her family were not the only people forced into hiding. There are so many stories that we are unaware of and will probably never even learn about.”

In addition to experiencing some of the historical culture of the country, Penn State students had the opportunity to learn from various leaders in the criminology field. One man they heard from was a famous Dutch lawyer, Richard Korver, who has been instrumental in developing victims’ rights in the Dutch criminal justice system. The students also heard from Professor Jan van Dijk, who helped create the International Crime Victimization Survey.

“Being able to listen to these people who have had such great successes in their career was amazing,” said Ecklund. “It was not just like sitting in a normal lecture at Penn State. I took a lot away from these lectures, and they restored my love for learning as they were extremely interesting. The experience has led me to the realization that I want to help victims as much as possible in my career. There is nothing you can do to take away what has already happened to a victim, but you have the ability to do everything in your power to help them move forward and restore their confidence, which is what I intend to do.”

Embedded courses are available in many different departments and on various topics. To learn more about liberal arts embedded courses and to see more programs, visit https://sites.psu.edu/laembeddedcourses/.