Criminal justice professor to study how Finland handles novel drugs
Clemson criminal justice professor Bryan Miller is set to travel to Finland next month to study how the country’s justice system responds to online and new drug markets.
As one of more than 30 Americans to participate in the Fulbright Finland program, Miller will spend five months at the University of Tampere, where he will teach graduate students and conduct research.
“I am very excited and honored to be part of such a prestigious program, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to live, teach and conduct research in Finland,” Miller said.
His interests are in pure drug research– exploring why and how people seek out certain types of drugs, especially newer drugs or methods of use, as well as applied research, looking at drug enforcement and treatment within the criminal justice system. Miller said he has always had in interest in the way drugs and criminal activity are inexorably linked. He said that in order for an academic with an interest in criminal justice to understand why people commit crimes, it is crucial to gain an understanding of drugs’ devastating impact on individuals. And he’s hoping to gain more of that understanding in Finland.
Miller first learned of his acceptance to the Fulbright program while teaching in Georgia Southern University’s criminal justice and criminology department before joining Clemson’s faculty in fall 2018.
Katherine Weisensee, chair of Clemson’s Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice department, said Miller’s opportunity to conduct research that has a global impact aligns with the vision of the department.
“We are excited that Bryan joined our department this year,” Weisensee said. “His participation as Fulbright fellow will allow us to continue to develop an international focus to our curriculum which aligns perfectly with the mission of the department.”
Miller’s connection to Finnish universities has roots in his work with graduate students. While at Georgia Southern, he was recommended by a colleague to serve on a dissertation review committee for the University of Turku in Finland. During his trip, he met with Atte Oksanen from the University of Tampere, who primarily studies drugs as well.
Miller and Oksanen have since collaborated at conferences and on various projects, including a paper examining factors associated with youth that acquire drugs online, and now his research for this fellowship.
For his Fulbright research, he will be working with Oksanen and his students to study what law enforcement officials are doing to combat online drug markets– meeting with police officers and drug counselors, which he says will be instrumental in his research.
“I’m mostly interested in their response and how they handle issues of addiction from the drug treatment perspective and the criminal justice perspective,” Miller said. “Specifically, with my research there’s a lot of international focus on the globalization of the drug trade, and more so now than ever. It’s the use of technology that I’m also interested in.”
The drug market has become more globalized as chemicals used to make the narcotics are often shipped all over the world after production. He said the U.S. has become increasingly pro-active with this issue, and the Drug Enforcement Administration field office in China has been working with other law enforcement agencies to stop production.
However, with synthetic drugs currently driving the market, Miller said stopping drug production and sales is proving to be more difficult. Miller’s goal for his research in Finland is to publish his work to inform policies and practices in the United States. He hopes his work will help foster future partnerships that will explore new avenues to combat this rising global issue.
“The entire world is dealing with these new substances and practices,” Miller said. “We have to figure out how we are going to react to it.”