Public Justice Practicum

PBJ 397


The Public Justice Practicum course gives students a valuable opportunity to gain practical experience in an occupation of interest, to make professional contacts, and to prepare for their future careers.

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  A. Nature and Purpose of Practicum Course:
The principal purpose of the Public Justice practicum course is to provide an opportunity for students to relate theory they have learned in their course work to the way things "really work" in the field. PBJ 397 may be taken for 3 or 6 semester hours of credit, depending on the student's interests and the demands of particular placements. A student must work forty hours in his or her agency for each credit earned. In addition, students must write reports about their fieldwork experience and relate it to the students' studies. Please Note: PBJ 397 is not an internship. It is a course with a required fieldwork component. Academic research and paper writing are an integral part of PBJ 397. [But see Section L, below.]

Each practicum student must also write a paper relating theory to practice within the context of his or her fieldwork placement. Students taking PBJ 397 for 6 semester hours are required to write more reports and complete additional academic work.

B. Prerequisites for PBJ 397:
1. Declared Public Justice major or second major; and

2. Completion of PBJ 101, PBJ 201, PBJ 301 with a grade of C- or better; and

3. Good academic standing (cumulative GPA of at least 2.0); and

4. Minimum of Junior status (56 s.h. completed); and

5. At least two semesters of coursework at SUNY Oswego; and

6. Prior department approval.

C. Application Procedure:
PBJ 397 is open to qualified students on a competitive basis only. Students must make application for admission to PBJ 397 the semester before the one in which they wish to take the course. Application forms are available available online.[must be signed into Google Mail]

Application deadlines for PBJ 397 are as follows:
Spring semester - October 1
Summer Session - March 1
Fall semester - April 1

Since space in the practicum sections is severely limited, late applications will rarely be accepted. Applications for PBJ 397 must be picked up, completed, and returned to the Public Justice office before the posted deadline. Application forms may be downloaded from the Public Justice Department website. After the close of the application period, accepted students will be emailed acceptance letters and information pertaining to their internship).

D. Selection Process:
PBJ 397 is a required course that students may take only after demonstrating their readiness and suitability. In any given semester, there are generally more applications for PBJ 397 than there are spaces in the course. As noted above, admission to the course is competitive. Students who register, but fail to successfully complete, PBJ 397 for two separate semesters will be automatically placed on the alternate list every subsequent time they register for this course. Students will only be allowed course access after all other eligible applicants have been accommodated.

Students should be aware, therefore, that admission to PBJ 397 is conditional upon the following:

1. Students must meet all prerequisites listed in Section B above.
2. Grade Point Average: All other things being equal, students with higher cumulative grade point averages will be given preference.
3. Total number of credits earned. When appropriate, eligible graduating seniors may be given preference for an opening.
4. Alternate List: An alternate list may be used when all students who qualify for the practicum cannot be accepted. In such cases, students will be assigned places in the practicum according to their rank order on the alternate list, if openings become available. Students who have previously registered and unsuccessfully completed the course two previous times will automatically be placed on the alternate  list.

E. Acceptance into PBJ 397:|
After the department makes its selections, a list of accepted students, and a list of alternates (if necessary), will be posted on the website and on the door of the Public Justice Department office. In addition, every student receives notification in writing of acceptance or rejection of his or her application. It is up to the individual applicants to determine whether or not he or she has been accepted and thus permitted to register (or pre-register) for PBJ 397.

F. Orientation:
Orientation for this course is contained within your course in Angel. If you have any questions relating to Practicum or the course, please contact your instructor or the Department Chairperson.

G. Practicum Fieldwork Placements:
It is up to the accepted student to seek out and obtain a fieldwork placement with an appropriate office or agency. You may do this before being formally accepted into PBJ 397 If you seek out placement before being accepted into the course and an agency supervisor informally accepts you, you will not be accepted into the course until and unless you meet the requirements set out in Section D above. In other words, acceptance into an agency does not guarantee automatic acceptance into PBJ 397.

A list of previous fieldwork placement sites is available on the Public Justice Department website. It is highly recommended that the student prepare a resumé and practice his or her application and interviewing techniques as preparation. Information from the Career Services Office (Campus Center) may be helpful in this process. As students find placements they should immediately notify the course instructor.

An agency may require the student to provide a letter verifying that the student is, in fact, a duly-registered practicum student, as a condition of acceptance. Students may obtain such a letter from the Public Justice Department secretary. Make sure to provide the Department with the exact name and business address of the person to whom the letter is to be sent. Since not all agencies require such letters, one will be sent only if the student requests it.

NOTE: Some agencies, particularly law enforcement agencies, require the student to provide evidence of liability insurance coverage.  Upon request, the department will provide a proof of liability insurance for the student.

H. Evaluation by Fieldwork Supervisor:
An important component of the final grade in PBJ 397 is the evaluation of the student's performance by the fieldwork supervisor. The student will request this evaluation from the fieldwork supervisor. This is done by giving the supervisor a copy of the evaluation form, which is available on the Public Justice Department website, inside your Angel course, or in the Departmental office. Most students receive excellent evaluations and often use their fieldwork supervisors as job references. Occasionally, students perform so impressively that they are subsequently hired by their practicum fieldwork agency!

WARNING: Any student who is assigned a grade of "E" on his or her fieldwork evaluation will receive an "E" in PBJ 397, no matter how well the student performs in other areas covered by the course.

A student may be assigned an "E" grade on the fieldwork evaluation only when the fieldwork supervisor reports serious acts by the student involving the student's responsibility, reliability, and/or honesty, including, but not limited to:

a. actions which tend to breach the required confidentiality of an office or agency;
b. illegal or improper conduct by the student under color of working for the agency;
c. repeated lateness for work;
d. repeated unexcused failure to attend scheduled work hours;
e. repeated unexcused failure to perform or complete work or duties assigned by the supervisor;
f. repeated failure to follow supervisor's directions.

If a fieldwork supervisor requests the removal of a student as a result of irresponsible or improper behavior, and if that student is subsequently removed from the fieldwork placement, such removal shall also result in a grade of "E" for PBJ 397.

Please Note: Not all instances of unsuccessful fieldwork are the fault of the student. If you feel that your fieldwork placement is unsatisfactory for whatever reason, such as schedule conflicts, lack of meaningful work at the agency, incompatibility, etc., notify your course instructor as soon as possible. If the instructor cannot advise you or assist in obtaining a more successful "match" between you and the agency, the Department will try to assist you to find a more suitable placement, as long as there is still time for you to complete your fieldwork with another agency. Please do not just suffer in silence! If you have a reasonable complaint, let your instructor and the Department know about it, so that they may help you.

I. Final Grade in PBJ 397:
The practicum final grade will be determined by the course instructor, except as noted in Section H above. The instructor will consider: (1) completion of the 40 hour fieldwork per credit requirement; (2) quantity and quality of 40-hour reports; (3) completion of discussions or assignments (which may be in-class or online, depending on which form of the course the student takes); (4) fieldwork supervisor's evaluation; (5) the quality of the final paper; and (6) submitting required work on time.

WARNING: Failure to meet the assignment schedule (completion of fieldwork hours, submission of 40-hour reports, submission of required components of final paper [outline and bibliography, first draft, revised paper]) may result in a Grade of E. Plagiarism will result in a grade of E. (Please note that SUNY at Oswego has an Academic Integrity statement that appears in the College catalog and on the College website. That policy applies to all students in PBJ 397.)

J. Intersession Fieldwork for Spring Semester Practicum:
A student may request permission to complete the fieldwork component of the spring semester PBJ 397 course during the intersession period between fall and spring semesters. Intersession fieldwork is permitted only upon prior approval of the Public Justice Department. Students requesting permission to complete fieldwork during the intersession should note that fact on their practicum application form. In order to receive such permission, the student must:

1. Meet all other eligibility criteria for PBJ 397;

2. Satisfy the Public Justice department that the proposed fieldwork placement is acceptable;

3. Get any necessary forms and instructions from your course instructor or from the department;

4. Advance-register for the appropriate spring semester PBJ 397 section.

These conditions must be met before the end of the fall semester in which approval is sought. No student may begin intersession fieldwork without being advance-registered for PBJ 397 and securing departmental approval.

Please Note: There is no intersession PBJ 397 course. A student who does intersession fieldwork is merely completing that component of the spring semester PBJ 397 during the intersession period. The student must complete all the remaining requirements of the practicum to receive a grade for the spring semester PBJ 397.

K. Summer Session Practicum Course:
PBJ 397 is also offered during summer session. The deadline for application for the summer session practicum is March 1st. In the summer term, PBJ is offered online (in which all the course work except the fieldwork hours is done electronically).  Summer Practicum students must register and pay for PBJ 397 as a SUNY Oswego summer session course even if they are not on campus during the summer. No student will receive credit for PBJ 397 in summer session if he/she fails to register and pay for the course in a timely manner.