Course Description

The First Step to Change:  Learn About the Restorative Justice Philosophy and How Its Application Leads to Successful Leadership

This seven-module asynchronous online course introduces the philosophy and practices of restorative justice.  Restorative justice is a global social movement with applications ranging from the way a teacher responds to minor misbehavior in school classroom to prosecutors' support of a crime victim’s desire to confront the offender to a society’s healing approach in the aftermath of war or genocide. Restorative approaches draw upon a variety of justice traditions that, in many ways, challenges the Western legal tradition of adversarial adjudication and punishment. Participants will be introduced to the ethical framework that guides restorative approaches and a variety of applications. One leading assumption of this course is that a student interested in applying restorative justice in one particular setting, such as a school, will be most successful when they understand a broad range of restorative perspectives and practices.

This course is one of the options for the first of three required courses for the Restorative Justice Facilitation and Leadership Certificate, developed by the University of San Diego's Center for Restorative Justice, housed in the Leadership Studies Department in the School of Leadership and Education Sciences and facilitated by the Division of Professional and Continuing Education.  The certificate curriculum combines an academic understanding of restorative justice with experiential learning to ensure skillful facilitation, with the goal of building a new generation of restorative justice leaders.

This course can be taken in lieu of EDU-X779R, Restorative Justice for Campus Sexual Harm toward certificate requirements.

Learner Outcomes

  • Understand the philosophy and practice of restorative justice from an ethical and philosophical consideration of the goals and consequences of various approaches to punishment
  • Distinguish various applications of restorative justice in a variety of institutions from a cross-cultural perspective
  • Demonstrate familiarity with the research on restorative justice including the criteria used for assessment of restorative programs
  • Assess the strategies and effectiveness of restorative justice implementation through critical assessment of grassroots (bottom-up) and administrative (top-down) initiatives

Course Details

Number of Units: 3.0 graduate level extension credits in semester hours

Who Should Attend: This course provides continuing education for those that want to learn more on and implement restorative justice in lieu of the traditional punishment practices.  This includes K-12 educators, and those working for higher education institutions, workplaces, community organizations, and criminal justice agencies. There is a growing need for skilled practitioners who understand the philosophical underpinnings of restorative justice, its varied applications, and self-reflective, nuanced practice.

PLEASE NOTE: Due to regulations from the U.S. Department of Education, the University of San Diego is unable to enroll students in its online programs who reside in Alabama, Arkansas, District of Columbia, Georgia, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Rhode Island and Wisconsin. This restriction does not apply to applicants interested in a campus-based program.If you are from one of these states/district, please contact Professor Justine Darling (jdarling@sandiego.edu) for advice about our program.

Course Format:  This course is offered in Online Fixed-Date (fully online) and spans a 14-week schedule. This course is asynchronous, there are no set days or times to be online but there are specific weekly assignment deadline dates within the course.

Course Materials: Three text books,

Refund Policy: To receive a refund, students need to drop the course through the MyPCE@USD student account portal before midnight (11:59PT) on the third day of the course. The refund of the course fee will be returned less a processing fee of 10% of the course tuition. No refunds will be issued after this deadline.

Enrollment Open Through:  Maximum enrollment is met, or through the first day of the course, whichever happens first.

Technical Requirements

ADA Accommodations:  The Center for Restorative Justice is committed to promoting knowledge and academic excellence for all learners. The University of San Diego's Disability and Learning Difference Resource Center helps students with verified disabilities obtain meaningful academic accommodations and support to help improve access to the Center for Restorative Justice and courses.  If you are a student who would like to be considered for academic accommodations, please visit USD's Disability and Learning Difference Resource Center's website and follow the instructions under Requesting Services.


"You are all so incredible--thank you for doing this! I have learned so much, met so many thoughtful and interesting people, and I am looking forward to another class in the fall! " -- Bonnie Talbert, Harvard University
"My instructors were great, they were very knowledgeable on the topics we learned about. They were open and honest communicators that were always available for additional conversations." --Tolu Kayode, Associate Director of Student Engagement
"It was a very positive learning experience." -- Theresa McSweeney
"Great experience with this course." -- Coron Brinson, Educator, Cristo Rey De La Salle East Bay High School, California
"This is my first time engaging in the education system as a learner since I graduated with my Masters in 2010. This course was phenomenal. While it was difficult for me at times to manage the readings on top of life and my work, I got so much out of the course that I am grateful for. It was definitely worth it." -- Blaz Bush, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY
"This course has taught me so much more about restorative justice and its surrounding movements, and although I had an idea of how it would influence my professional life, I did not anticipate that it would also transform me on a personal level. I'm so grateful for all I've learned so far, and I'm looking forward to the next two courses in the certificate program!" -- Sandy Somo, Glendale Community College, Glendale, CA

Request More Information

If you have any questions about certificate enrollment, curriculum, or other opportunities for RJ education please complete the inquiry form below and you will be contacted.

Applies Towards the Following Certificate(s), Professional Programs and Series

Enroll Now - Select a section to enroll in
Jan 30, 2024 to May 15, 2024
Course Format
Course Fee(s)
EDU PD - $1195 credit (3 units) $1,195.00
Section Fees
Available for Extension Credit
3 units
Section Notes

Once you have enrolled in your course, log in to your account to access the course Welcome Letter, which includes directions on how to access the Online Orientation and your online course.

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