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LHU News

LHU professor creates new rural criminology course, incorporates Zoom to connect students with alumni

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Throughout the fall semester, many Lock Haven University faculty have needed to adjust the way they teach their classes. For Dr. Katie Ely, the switch to online presented some challenges for a newly offered elective in the criminal justice department. Ely created a new course – rural criminology – to address issues relating to rural criminal justice. 

“Many of our students come from rural locations and want to pursue careers in similar locations,” Ely said. “Most research on criminal justice issues focuses on urban populations, which also is often where content for textbooks and other course materials come from. I realized that we needed a course devoted to rural issues so that our students would feel more prepared when starting their careers.” 

Ely, along with Dr. Ed Bowman from the criminal justice department at LHU, have conducted numerous research projects over the last 10 years in local rural communities in Clinton, Lycoming and Union counties. When conceptualizing this course, Ely had planned to include this research as well as bring in a number of guest speakers to add to the experience of the material. 

Once the course was changed to fully online, Ely wondered how she would include guest speakers. She decided to reach out to some alumni, and the response was overwhelming. Right away, a number of students got back to her to schedule short Zoom interviews. 

Ely met with seven LHU criminal justice alumni during the first few weeks of the semester and asked them a series of questions about working in a rural location. The individual Zoom interviews were recorded and placed in the course content online through D2L, available only for students in the course. 

The videos have become part of the course content and have provided a space not only for guest speakers, but for alumni to share their experiences with current students.  

“Our alumni are always so willing to come back and connect with our current students,” Ely said. “I have always had alumni guest speakers physically in my classes, but going forward, I may utilize Zoom more often. This will allow students who live out of state to share their experiences and connect with our current students.” 

The LHU alumni who participated are Scott Carr (’15), Rachel Lyons (’17), Kristin Lindsey (’12), Dasha Good (’14), Michael Mostowy (’16), Caleb Smith (’19) and Cole Wirt (’18).  

For more information on Lock Haven University, visit, email, or call 570-484-2011. 

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Lock Haven University’s main campus is located on the West Branch of the Susquehanna River in the scenic mountains of Pennsylvania. The university offers 49 undergraduate majors and certifications with 47 minors and five graduate programs.

LHU is a member of Pennsylvania’s State System, the largest provider of higher education in the Commonwealth. Its 14 universities offer more than 2,300 degree and certificate programs in more than 530 academic areas of study. Nearly 520,000 system alumni live and work in Pennsylvania.


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