Criminal justice is often criticized for lacking theoretical grounding. This article argues that the introductory criminal justice course should be reconceptualized in such a way that permits a critical assessment of theoretical bases underlying crime, law and justice. Doing so would better prepare students to understand key questions in the study of criminal justice and would also help give criminal justice greater credibility as a stand-alone academic discipline. In addition to presenting the benefits of a theory-driven introductory course, possible content and pedagogy are described. *An earlier version of this article was presented by all four co-authors as part of a roundtable presentation at the 2003 Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences Annual Meeting, in Boston.
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