The Criminology Consortium (CrimCon) was created during one of the worst international pandemics seen in modern history. A group of innovators keenly perceived the need to create a new way to disseminate knowledge in the field because many of our existing conferences and annual meetings were postponed or cancelled due to the pandemic. There was a major void felt in the field by the cancellation of our traditional face-to-face conferences. There are many advantages to attending and participating in conferences in our field. These annual meetings give academics, researchers, practitioners, and policymakers ways to communicate their research, learn about the practices of others, and provide networking opportunities for all participants. Many faculty members also depend on conference activity as part of their tenure and promotion requirements. International participants especially benefit from attending an online conference, such as CrimCon, by not having to face restrictions associated with conference fees and/or travel. The need for an online conference like CrimCon clearly existed for many reasons and that need continues today.
The founding CrimCon Board went into action early-2020 to address the needs of the field. They began planning what must have seemed an overwhelming task: creating a new conference that would be accessed purely online. The inaugural CrimCon Conference spanned three days in November and drew in hundreds of participants from multiple countries. Much positive feedback was voiced by attendees—before, during, and after the conference. As with any pioneering activity, however, there were also criticisms. Following the conference, critics raised concerns over certain policies and practices within the original CrimCon Board. This resulted in the resignation of two board members initially, and more recently, the resignation of the other three original board members. Before the latter departed, they voted to elect the new President and Vice President.
As newly-elected board members, we have carefully reviewed all existing documentation and are moving forward with some changes. Our first step was to begin revising the existing bylaws of the CrimCon organization. We are making changes to the roles and duties of board members, structure and flow of board meetings, and rules surrounding conflicts of interest. Our next step is to create a Code of Ethics to address policies related to participant privacy, data usage, and diversity and inclusion. These will be available on the CrimCon website once completed and approved. We will be piloting a new system for gathering ideas and suggestions, as we value the feedback of our colleagues. We also voted on a clear vision and mission statement for the organization as follows:
Vision: We envision an inclusive consortium where everyone can share their knowledge of criminology and criminal justice regardless of their position, education, location, or financial status.
Mission Statement: The Criminology Consortium’s (CrimCon) purpose is to provide ways to disseminate knowledge about criminology and the criminal justice system using various technologies. Our objectives are to:
promote and foster evidence-based practices in education, training, and practice related to criminal justice and criminology.
provide a venue for those who want to share their knowledge and offer networking opportunities for academics, researchers, practitioners, policymakers, or those simply interested in the topic;
foster ethical standards and promote diversity and inclusion in the field;
provide an option for those who cannot travel to conferences in the United States for a variety of reasons and/or participants who cannot afford to attend any face-to-face conferences for whatever reason.
Some of our final changes involve more communication from participants. We see the need to have further input from those outside the board. As such, CrimCon will establish an Advisory Committee consisting of members from across the field so they can communicate special needs in their areas of expertise. Additionally, CrimCon will be adding a feedback mechanism for participants to communicate what they liked and didn’t like about the conference or any questions, comments, or concerns they may have. We believe this type of communication is invaluable and will assist in meeting the needs of such a diverse field as criminal justice.
The first year of any new organization provides opportunities to learn and grow. CrimCon was no exception. This new board offers new beginnings. We commit to continuously evaluating our practices and making changes as necessary to serve the field. We want to thank the 2020 CrimCon Board for their hard work on the inaugural conference and the service they provided in a very critical time of need. Our sentiment is that the initial need that brought CrimCon together still exists; we see great potential for this organization. We can only hope that the work we have already completed, and continue to do as we move forward, will help further realize the vision that began in 2020. We aspire to provide a much-needed venue for those seeking conference activities but cannot do so for a variety of reasons. CrimCon looks forward to bringing back our Annual Conference in October of 2021.