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WIHEA Symposium: 'Restorative Justice in Higher Education'

Symposium: 'Restorative Justice in Higher Education'

This event took place on Thursday, 22 April 2021.

The event looked at understanding the challenge of how universities react when students have harmed others. Traditional disciplinary measures can often feel inappropriate, but alternatives can be difficult to imagine. This symposium brought together experts with experience of RJ in a range of contexts, who examined the rationale, extent and effectiveness of restorative justice and its place in a higher education setting as a possible way to repair harm and re-educate the harmer about the needs and values of the university community.

This event proved to be of particular appeal to those in the university community with an interest in conflict management, such as Heads of Departments, Discipline teams, Academic Integrity leads, residential life teams and many others.

Statements from the organisers:

Jane Bryan and Imogen Davies: All of the speakers seemed to support the idea of RJ and demonstrated how effective and useful it could be at healing the harm caused by wrong-doing, but all of them provided narratives and academic argument about how difficult this could be. Clifford’s picture of the compass seemed to sum up the whole situation – there needs to be a cultural shift that enables a community to take a different direction through a situation.

RJ can be critical of institutions, so this isn’t for the faint-hearted – Amanda’s three key points of commitment, risk and co-option/trust are important to consider.

It helps if the whole community has some experience of RJ in order to believe that it can work – so this supports the small steps from the ground up approach, to embed it into the community, although it’s also possible to invite in RJ experts to help work through a specific situation. It is also possible for the processes of RJ to flex around situations that require flexibility which is how David explained they use RJ in sexual misconduct/assault cases.

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Event Speakers

Clifford A Grimason

Clifford has recently been appointed as the national restorative practice lead for HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) in England & Wales, tasked with establishing and managing Re:Hub – the restorative practice hub. Clifford has previously worked as a national coordinator during the development of the SORI RJ Programme for HMPS.

In 2007 Clifford was appointed RJ Manager at HMP Hewell, leading on the development of restorative practice as the new establishment was formed through the merger of previous Cat B local, Cat C trainer and Cat D open prisons. In 2011 the RJ project was commissioned partnering with the local Probation Trust to explore a whole prison and community approach to the application of restorative approaches. A unique, holistic model, applying restorative approaches across whole sentences was then successfully developed.

In 2016 HM Inspectorate for Prisons cited the restorative justice work at HMP Hewell as an example of good practice and recommended further expansion within HMP Hewell and that the model be used for other prisons.

Originally becoming interested in relational and restorative justice while working with marginalised and dis-advantaged families in Birmingham, twenty years ago Clifford met a New Zealand probation officer on a bus from Los Angeles to San Francisco and learned about the reshaping of the New Zealand justice system to embed restorative approaches. From then Clifford has relentlessly sought a similar transformation in the UK.

Dr David Karp

David Karp is professor of leadership and director of the Center for Restorative Justice in the School of Leadership and Education Sciences at the University of San Diego. His current scholarship focuses on restorative justice in community and educational settings. For his work on campus restorative justice, he was the recipient of the 2019 Leadership and Innovation Award from the National Association of Community and Restorative Justice and the 2011 Donald D. Gehring Award from the Association for Student Conduct Administration. David has published more than 100 academic papers and six books, including The Little Book of Restorative Justice for Colleges and Universities, Wounds That Do Not Bind: Victim-Based Perspectives on the Death Penalty and The Community Justice Ideal. David serves on the Board of Directors for the National Association for Community and Restorative Justice and on the Advisory Council of the National Center on Restorative Justice at Vermont Law School. He has previously served as associate dean of student affairs and professor of sociology at Skidmore College. David received a BA in peace and conflict studies from the University of California at Berkeley, and a PhD in sociology from the University of Washington.
Dr Amanda Wilson

Dr Amanda Wilson is a Leverhulme Trust Fellow at the University of Warwick’s Law School. Amanda has been researching and writing about alternative justice mechanisms for over a decade and has collaborated with a number of leading experts from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. She works closely with key policy and practice organisations such as Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service’s Restorative Practice Hub, the European Forum for Restorative Justice and Restorative Justice for all. Her Leverhulme project pursues a rational reconstruction of restorative justice through critical ethics and moral psychology.

Event Organizers

Dr Jane Bryan (Law); Dr Imogen Davies (WMS)

For more information about this event, please contact Dr Jane Bryan (