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.


Location: Online
Format: Self-paced within deadlines set by instructor
Duration: 13 weeks
Tuition: $990
Can be applied to:
Restorative Justice Certificate

Upcoming Offerings

Register for a course at any time, with the option to apply to a program later.

Start Date
Seats Available
Start DateWed, Jan 17, 2024
  • Wed, Jan 17 (self-paced all week)
  • Wed, Jan 24 (self-paced all week)
  • Wed, Jan 31 (self-paced all week)
  • Wed, Feb 7 (self-paced all week)
  • Wed, Feb 14 (self-paced all week)
  • Wed, Feb 21 (self-paced all week)
  • Wed, Feb 28 (self-paced all week)
  • Wed, Mar 6 (self-paced all week)
  • Wed, Mar 13 (self-paced all week)
  • Wed, Mar 20 (self-paced all week)
  • Wed, Mar 27 (self-paced all week)
  • Wed, Apr 3 (self-paced all week)
  • Wed, Apr 10 (self-paced all week)
Seats Available4

What you will learn

After completing this course, you’ll be able to do 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
  • Understand the significant role of "community" in responding to harm, shame management, support for trauma recovery, reintegration and harm prevention

How you will learn and be evaluated

  • Prepare to spend about 10 hours per week on coursework
  • Expect reading and other assignments on a weekly basis
  • Plan to access the course at least once every few days to keep up with your work and group assignments

You will be evaluated on:

  • Assignments 
  • Participation in online discussions

This course is assessed on a competency-based scale of Pass or Fail. To graduate with the Restorative Justice Certificate, successfully complete all required courses.

Learning Materials

Course fees do not include textbooks. We recommend you purchase your textbook as soon as you’ve registered. We will provide additional course materials online.

Required textbooks:

Davis, Fania E. The Book of Race and Restorative Justice. Good Books, 2019. Paperback or e-book available for purchase from Amazon or Simon & Schuster.

Elliott, Elizabeth M. Security With Care: Restorative Justice and Healthy Societies. Fernwood Books, 2011. Available for purchase from publisher or Amazon.

Valandra, E.C. & Hokšíla, W.W. (Eds.). Colorizing Restorative Justice: Voicing Our Realities. Living Justice Press, 2020. Available for purchase from Living Justice Press or Amazon.

Zehr, Howard. The Little Book of Restorative Justice. Good Books, 2015 (older editions can also be used). Available for purchase from publisher or as e-book from Google Play.

Technical Requirements

For online courses, you will need a computer with audio and microphone that is connected to the internet. Canvas is the online system that will be used for the course. For more information and online support, visit Online Learning.


The Centre for Restorative Justice
School of Criminology
Simon Fraser University