Restorative Justice: Celebrating a Twenty Year Partnership

Conflict occurs every day, all over the world, and it is important to have the skills necessary to resolve it. The concept of the Conflict Management Certificate Program at Grebel sprang from a Peace and Conflict Studies Department strategic visioning session that occurred in the late nineties. “One of the grounding principles for the program was that partnerships between Grebel and professional trainers already providing specialized skills training would be sought,” explained Sue Baker, Manager of the Conflict Management Certificate Program. “It was with this principle in mind, that a partnership was formed with Community Justice Initiatives (CJI) in spring 2001 to offer a workshop in Transformative Mediation— content which was and is required by all volunteers with CJI.”

Restorative Justice intertwines naturally with Transformative Mediation, though there are differences. RJ applies its principles to restore relationships, while Transformative Mediation provides a relational approach to resolve conflicts. Since RJ concepts apply directly to the approach of Transformative Mediation, past workshop graduates and current teachers Jason Spencer and Shelley Schanzenbacher decided to incorporate the three pillars of Restorative Justice into their course.

Although it has historically been offered in person, Transformative Mediation is currently being delivered in an online format using Zoom over the course of seven half-days. Participants gain valuable conflict resolution skills with practical and hands-on activities such as role-playing as a mediator or a person-in-conflict. “The goal is to help the participants understand communication barriers and builders and the root causes of conflict in order to work towards a mutually beneficial outcome,” said Jason.

“Restorative Justice is not something you do or a tool you use, it is a way to see and move in the world,” Shelley added. “It is rooted in relationship.”