Zehr Institute for Restorative Justice

The leaders of EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP) announced the founding of the Zehr Institute at the end of the fall 2012 semester. The Zehr Institute will spread knowledge about restorative justice and be a resource to practitioners, while facilitating conversations and cultivating connections through activities like conferences and webinars, according to CJP executive director Lynn Roth. The institute will be co-directed by Howard Zehr, distinguished professor of restorative justice, and Carl Stauffer, assistant professor of justice and development studies at CJP.

Zehr and Stauffer say they intend for the institute to offer space to explore “frontier” topics, like the intersection of the arts and peacebuilding, and the ways that trauma and restorative justice are connected. They plan for it to tap the expertise of practitioners who aren’t scholars, but have much to offer.

And though the institute will not focus on academia, Stauffer believes it will benefit graduate students by growing a program in which students are not only taught the skills of restorative justice but are trained to see and respond to larger, systemic issues.

“We want to graduate students who’ve studied restorative justice who could run a circle [process] or victim-offender conferencing or a family group conference,” says Stauffer. “At the same time we want them to apply their education to a whole system, so that they could walk into a school and say, ‘What would a restorative justice system look like here?’”

Restorative justice, both Stauffer and Zehr believe, is not a just a social service, but a social movement.

Based on article by Lora Steiner & Bonnie Price Lofton