The origins of the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice at Gonzaga University can be found in the College of Arts and Science and the Department of Philosophy in 1924. Rev. Daniel J. Reidy, S.J., a lecturer in Senior Philosophy, Philosophy of Religion and Sociology, provided instruction in Principles of Sociology. This three hour course provided “an introduction to the scientific study of social problems and their relation to the family and the individual as well as to civil society.” While re-titled Philosophical Principles of Sociology in 1927, the course continued in the Philosophy curriculum through the 1935-1936 academic year, the forty-eighth year of the University. Despite this singular course in Sociology, the College of Arts and Sciences offered a Major subject in Sociology through the Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Philosophy degree as early as 1925.
In 1932, Rev. Leo J. Robinson, S.J., joined the faculty as a professor of sociology and with Rev. Reidy, S.J., rejoining the faculty as professor of sociology in 1933, having completed his service as President of the University in the late 1920s, the initial beginnings of the Department become apparent. In a major transformation of the College of Arts and Sciences, the administration under the new direction of Pres. Leo J. Robinson, S.J., introduced a new social science curriculum, including the formation of new social science departments, namely the Department of Sociology and the Department of Political Science. In 1936, the Department of Sociology offered a ranging curriculum for undergraduate and graduate students, including Social Problems, Social History, the Family, Social Psychology, Social Inadequates, Cultural Anthropology, Rural Sociology, Social Statistics, Social Economics and Population, as well as a concentration in Criminal Justice (Criminology, Penology). This curriculum format would remain for the next several decades.