Put science to service in the forensic sciences

Alex Easterbrook
Forensic therapist bridges psychology and criminal justice

“Forensic therapy” sounds like the premise for a dramatic television series. But the work Alex Easterbrook does as a real forensic therapist is far more challenging – and far more rewarding – than any scripted treatment could imagine.

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The forensic sciences involve the application of science to the legal system. Careers in forensic fields are in increasing demand. The goal of the forensic studies minor is to provide a broad introduction to some of the fields of study with forensic applications, ranging from natural to social and behavioral sciences. Although the minor is appropriate for any student who would like to learn more about forensics, it provides a particularly attractive option for students majoring in fields with forensic applications (e.g.: biology, chemistry, anthropology, psychology, sociology, engineering) who are considering careers in the forensic sciences. Through the minor, students will gain a more holistic perspective of the forensic sciences, which is important in a field that typically involves multi-disciplinary collaboration. The minor, in combination with a major in a forensic-related field, will prepare students for further training or graduate studies in the forensic sciences.

The requirements for the minor include core classes in forensic anthropology and forensic psychology. Students take electives across three topical areas including anthropology, biology and chemistry and social sciences.

Learning Outcomes

After completing the minor in forensic studies, students will:

  1. Describe the interaction between scientific disciplines and the legal system.
  2. Describe theory or methods used in disciplines with forensic applications.
  3. Demonstrate effective communication skills using appropriate terminology from the natural, social or behavioral sciences.
  4. Evaluate evidence or data in case study, lab or field situations.

Why study forensic sciences?

A career in the forensic sciences can be interesting and rewarding. Forensic scientists apply expertise in science to the legal system, providing analyses and expert opinion before or during court cases in the pursuit of truth. The work of forensic scientists can be used to address questions and solve problems related to both civil and criminal law with impacts on public safety, public health and human rights issues.

Forensic scientists may work in a variety of settings, including law enforcement, the government, universities and colleges, forensic laboratories, medical examiner/coroner offices or as independent consultants. In addition to providing expertise in civil and criminal cases, forensic scientists may be called upon to assist with mass disasters and war crimes.

Why pursue a forensic studies minor at Fort Lewis College?

Fort Lewis College has small class sizes, allowing for more hands-on and interactive activities in the classroom. The types of activities offered through the minor include a classroom trial, a simulated forensic recovery, hands-on case studies in forensic anthropology, and laboratory techniques in molecular biology, field documentation methods and advanced training in skeletal analysis.

What skills do I need to pursue a career in the forensic sciences?

Pursuing a career in the forensic sciences begins with a bachelor’s degree in a field with forensic applications and typically involves additional training or graduate study with specialization in forensics.  Excellent writing skills and attention to detail are necessary for a forensic science career. For more information about the forensic sciences, including information for students on careers, visit the American Academy of Forensic Sciences website.