Joel B Samaha

Photo of Joel B Samaha

Contact Me

Sociology Department
1033 Soc Sci Building

267 19th Ave S


“Teaching undergraduates, to me, means making students uncomfortable with their assumptions.… I don’t see my job as picking the right or best assumptions for students, but as driving home a different point: that there are several reasonable meanings to any topic worth studying.”

Educational Background & Specialties

Educational Background

  • Ph.D.: Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, 1972.
  • M.A. : Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, 1963.
  • J.D.: Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, 1961.
  • B.A.: Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, 1958.

Curriculum Vitae


  • Criminal Law and Procedure in U.S Society
  • History of Criminal Justice
Courses Taught
  • Soc 3101/H - Introduction to the Criminal Justice System
  • Soc 3111 - Introduction to Crime and Justice
  • Soc 4108 - Issues in Crime Control
  • Soc 4161 - Criminal Law in American Society
  • Soc 4162 - Criminal Procedure in American Society
  • Hist 4337 - The Supreme Court and the Bill of Rights
  • Hist 4910 - A Death in the Delta
Research & Professional Activities

Professional Activities

  • Chair, Department of Criminal Justice Studies, University of Minnesota: 1974 - 1978


  • Prof. Samaha has written three influential textbooks, which are used at 465 colleges in 48 states. Joel’s teaching methods challenge students’ ideas and assumptions about criminal justice, and forces them to admit that other ideas are worth considering and studying. Prof. Samaha’s students find their lives and academic careers changed by this experience. A former student claims, “Joel’s style challenges the student to take the risks necessary to learn and achieve new understandings of the subject matter—and a great deal about themselves"
  • Prof. Liz Boyle, Department Chair, recognizes his influence and success, claiming that Prof. Samaha has “shaped the instruction of criminal justice courses in every state and had a profound impact on the administration of criminal justice in Minnesota"
  • Many of his former students have gone on to become professors, academics, and criminal justice leaders. “I have never met anyone who combined the depth of knowledge of law and history with [the] genius for analytical reasoning and powerful oratory,” stated a former student. “Joel is one of a kind”
  • Morse-Alumni Award for Undergraduate Teaching, 2006 - 2007
  • College of Liberal Arts Teaching Award, University of Minnesota, 1974