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Jillian Peterson

Professor - Criminal Justice; Executive Director - Violence Prevention Project Research Center

Jillian Peterson is a professor of criminology and criminal justice at Hamline University. Dr. Peterson has a Master’s degree and PhD in Psychology and Social Behavior from the University of California, Irvine, and a Bachelor's degree in Sociology from Grinnell College. Prior to graduate school, Dr. Peterson worked as a special investigator in New York City, researching the life histories of men facing the death penalty for their sentencing hearings. Dr. Peterson was the principal investigator on a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Justice focused on understanding the life histories of mass shooters. Dr. Peterson and a team of Hamline students built a comprehensive database of every mass shooter since 1966, which has impacted national policy and received global media attention. Dr. Peterson is a regular commentator in the media on outlets like CBS Morning News, National Public Radio, Fox News, and CNN. Her areas of expertise include forensic psychology, mental illness in the justice system, violence prevention, and data-driven public policy.

Professor Peterson hopes to give students a rich and exciting experience that provides them with the resources and perspective necessary to examine their world through a social scientific lens– from current research findings to public policy to societal problems to their everyday lives. She enters the classroom each day with genuine excitement about the field of criminal justice, integrating the latest research in the field and connecting concepts to current events. Professor Peterson gives students the space to make the course their own by filling the classes with interactive activities, lively discussions, and reflective writing assignments that challenge students to think critically and creatively about the topics they are excited about.

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”

- William Butler Yeats

“The field of criminal justice is constantly evolving and changing, which makes it an exciting place to be. I strive to make my classes thought-provoking and relevant to my students’ lives. I think of the classroom as an open, honest space where students are free to share their experiences and express their diverse opinions. I hope students walk away with the tools they need to think critically about the field of criminal justice and a passion to improve it.”

-Jillian Peterson