Justice by Geography: Issues that Inequitably Impact Rural Youth

Teaching & Engagement, 2014


The purpose of this service learning project is to educate students on the unique juvenile justice and legislative issues facing rural communities across Nebraska, culminating with a two month placement with a rural juvenile justice professional or agency. Students will work closely with the partnering individual/agency to gain hands-on experience in the field, as well as an invaluable “real world” perspective.

Participating students will learn the juvenile justice and legislative processes and examine juvenile justice issues that impact rural Nebraska. In addition, this experience will provide students an opportunity to develop a network of contacts across the state in a variety of fields related to juvenile justice and the legislative process. Such a network may assist students in securing professional positions in rural areas.


The Juvenile Justice Institute at the University of Nebraska at Omaha partnered with UNL Law & Psychology to teach Justice by Geography, a course that pairs student interns with rural juvenile justice agencies. Students learn about program evaluation and have the opportunity to do program evaluation work with their agency. The course culminates in a student presentation.

During the two-year project, 17 students were placed in rural communities to work with small rural agencies to evaluate their programs. Initially the preference was to enroll 10-15 students each semester, however, project personnel struggled to recruit and enroll students willing to do their internship in a rural community. However, upon further reflection, a larger class may not have provided as rich of a learning environment for the students. With smaller cohorts, each group got a very specific juvenile justice experience.

The Juvenile Justice Institute continues to offer the Justice by Geography project and recruit undergraduate students to intern with rural areas.

Project Team






Contact: Anne Hobbs, ahobbs@unomaha.edu