Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Social Work & Criminal Justice

Varner Hall Room 518
371 Varner Drive
Rochester , MI 48309-4482
(location map)
(248) 370-2420
fax: (248) 370-4608
[email protected]

Social Work
Varner, Room 513
371 Varner Dr.
Rochester, MI 48309-4482
(248) 370-2371
[email protected]

Terressa Benz

A headshot of Terressa Benz.

Associate Professor of Criminal Justice
527 Varner
(248) 370-2429
[email protected]


Dr. Benz received her Ph.D. In Criminology, Law and Society from the University of California Irvine, where she focused on the exclusion of marginalized populations from gentrifying areas through the use of law and policing. Prior to working at Oakland University, Dr. Benz was an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Idaho where she began work examining the impact of concealed firearms, or campus carry, on the learning environment. This exploration of firearm use and ownership led her to research the decision to bear arms, specifically in the city of Detroit. Presently, Dr. Benz continues her research on the decision to bear arms, paying particular attention to the role of race in this decision and the subsequent treatment by the criminal justice system of those that make this decision. In addition, Dr. Benz pursues research on environmental injustice and racism, such as the Flint water crisis. Most recently, Dr. Benz has begun a new area of research into deviant heroes, or those who break the law to create positive social change.

Research Interests
Critical criminology, firearm ownership and carry practices, criminological and sociological theory, law and society, elite and white-collar crime, community context of crime, crime and public policy, policing and self-protection, urban sociology, ethnographic field methods, deviance and social control.

Selected Publications

2017. Benz, Terressa A., “Toxic Cities: Neoliberalism and Environmental Racism in Flint and Detroit Michigan,” Critical Sociology, p. 1-14. (refereed)

2017. DeAngelis, Joseph, Benz, T., and Gilham, P., “Collective Security, Fear of Crime, and Support for Concealed Firearms on a University Campus in the Western United States” Criminal Justice Review, 42(1) p.77-94. (refereed)

2016. Benz, Terressa A., “Urban Mascots and Poverty Fetishism: Authenticity in the Postindustrial City,” Sociological Perspectives, 59(2), p. 460-478. (refereed)

Courses Taught
Intro to Criminal Justice
Criminological Theory
Law and Society
White-Collar Crime
Capstone: Crim Just Pol Anlys

Ph.D., Criminology, Law & Society, University of California, Irvine
M.A., Social Ecology, University of California, Irvine