Introduction to Restorative Justice: Concepts, Theory and Philosophy

This course is an introduction to the restorative/transformative justice paradigm. It begins with an overview of modern criminal justice systems, with a focus on the centrality of punishment as a mechanism of social control. The idea of “justice” is deconstructed through a comparison of state-based and community-based concepts. Concepts such as crime and punishment are juxtaposed to concepts of harms and healing, with particular attention paid to the importance of values and relationships in restorative justice practices. The psychology of harm will be examined and restorative practices discussed as a means of dialogue and consensus building. The needs of those who harm and have been harmed are considered in the context of community capacity and social justice.

This course is available at the following time(s) and location(s):

This course is available at the following time(s) and location(s):

Campus Session(s) Instructor(s) Cost Seats available  
Online - - $990.00 0 Join Waitlist

Schedule clarification: This course begins on the first date listed and ends six days after the last date listed. Between those times, you work at your own pace within the timelines set by the instructor.

What will I learn?

This course will give you a working knowledge of the following:

  • Explain the conceptual shift from conflict resolution to conflict transformation
  • Explain key concepts of the restorative justice paradigm, as distinct from retributive justice
  • Describe restorative justice values and processes, such as dialogue and consensus-building
  • Explain key concepts of the psychology of harm, such as shame and trauma

How will I learn?

  • You will work within scheduled start and end dates, as well as assignment timelines.
  • Your study schedule will be entirely up to you. In some cases, we may ask you to meet online with your class and your instructor or a guest at a specific time, but these sessions will be recorded for future viewing if you are unable to attend.
  • Expect to spend approximately 10 hours per week on reading, online discussions, course work and supplementary activities, such as viewing assigned videos.

How will I be evaluated?

This course is assessed on a competency-based scale of Pass or Fail. You will be evaluated based on a variety of methods, such as online participation, individual assignments, journals, project-based work and course papers. Assignments build upon the significant level of real-world experience that most participants bring to the course. You must successfully complete all three required courses to receive a full program certificate.

Textbooks and learning materials

You are responsible for purchasing the required course texts and we recommend you obtain them as soon as you’ve registered. 

Required textbooks

Elliott, Elizabeth M. Security With Care: Restorative Justice and Healthy Societies. Fernwood Books (2011).

Lederach, John Paul. The Little Book of Conflict Transformation. Intercourse, Pennsylvania: Good Books (2003).

Zehr, Howard. The Little Book of Restorative Justice. Intercourse, PA: Good Books (2015) (Older editions can also be used.).

Recommended textbook (to support critical and reflective essays)

Ruggiero, Vincent Ryan. Beyond Feelings: A Guide to Critical Thinking (9th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill (2011).  

Hardware and software requirements 

We deliver this course using SFU's online course management system, Canvas. You will receive course details and Canvas access instructions on the first day of the course. You can check if your browser is compatible with Canvas here.

New to online learning? See About Online Learning for helpful videos and additional information.

English language requirements

To succeed in our programs and courses, you will need an advanced level of written and spoken English. If you are unsure whether your English language skills are sufficient, we recommend you complete the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) with a minimum overall band score of 6.5 (unless otherwise noted). If you have questions or concerns about your English language proficiency, we encourage you to contact your local IELTS Test Centre.


The Centre for Restorative Justice
School of Criminology
Simon Fraser University

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