RJ Syllabus

RJ Topics

Week 1: Introduction to Community Building Circles

  • Participants will experience the development of an intentional community through a community building circle. Participants will get to know each other through a series of exercises, the establishment of shared values and community agreements and sharing of stories.

Week 2: Introduction to Restorative Justice (Part Two)

  • Students will discuss the principles of Restorative Justice and they will gain familiarity with the process. Participants will watch a video about the process, followed up with a discussion about the video’s strengths and challenges.

Week 3: The intersections of Social Justice and Race

  • Circle discussion about video, and students questions about and responses to RJ practice. Who is RJ for? How is it evolving over time?

Week 4: RJ in Institutions

  • Circle discussion about the applications of restorative justice in institutional settings such as courts, education systems, etc. What role does restorative justice have in institutions? Does it have a role?
    • GUEST SPEAKER: Jonathan Bradley from SEEDS

Week 5: RJ in Communal Settings

  • Participants will analyze how Restorative Justice is practiced in communal settings and organizations. How does restorative justice in communal spaces intersect or depart from restorative justice at institutional levels?

Week 6: RJ To Adress Harm Through Social Media

  • Participants will discuss how Social Media is creating harm and will use a circle process to brainstorm ideas for changing the social norms that create this harm.

Week 7: RJ as an Indigenous Practice

  • Participants will discuss the relationship between RJ and indigenous practices and discuss how RJ can be brought to bear on histories of colonization and the politics of memory.

Week 8: RJ around the World: New Zealand

  • Participants will discuss the possibilities for RJ as a replacement for criminal justice in communities and how RJ is already being used in these ways.

Week 9: RJ in the Criminal Justice System

  • Students will discuss how RJ can respond to problems within the Criminal Justice System.

Week 10: RJ in Prisons and Re-entry

  • Participants will consider the ways in which RJ has been embraced by people in prison as a way to understand the concept “hurt people hurt people.” Through circle practice, people recognize how their positionality within cycles of violence and trauma have led them to commit acts of violence, which in turn have traumatized others.

Week 11: RJ and Decriminalizing Youth

  • Circle discussion about how the criminal justice system shows up in the school context. Participants will discuss how RJ is used in schools to interrupt the school to prison pipeline.


The Indigenous Origins of Circles and How Non-Natives Learned About Them.

Talking Stick and Feather: Indigenous Tools Hold Sacred Power of Free Speech

The Little Book of Restorative Justice, Howard Zehr, Good Books

“Healing from Harm and Unlearning Violence,” Sonya Shah, Tikkun Magazine, 2012.

Emerging trends in the social and behavioral sciences, Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons.

Education on Lockdown: The Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track

“From Report Card to Criminal Record: The Impact of Policing on Oakland Youth,” A Report by the Black Organizing Project, Public Counsel, and the ACLU of Northern California, August 2013.

“The Past, Present, and Future of Restorative Justice: Some Critical Reflections” by Kathleen Daly and Russ Immarigeon, The Contemporary Justice Review

“Indigenous Eyes to RJ,” by Erica Littlewolf and Harley Eagle, Intersections: MCC Theory and Practice Quarterly, Fall 2013.Restorative Justice and Prison Abolition



“Decolonizing Anti-Rape Law and Strategizing Accountability in Native American Communities,” by Andrea Smith Social Justice; 2011/2012; 37, 4; Alt-Press Watch (APW)

The Little Book of Family Group Conferencing, Howard Zehr, Good Books; (2004).

The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander

Are Prisons Obsolete? (Introduction & Chapter 6) by Angela Davis, NY: Seven Stories Press, 2003

“Restorative Theory in the Reentry Context: Building New Theory and Expanding the Evidence Base,” Gordon Bazemore and Shadd Maruna

“Social Justice and Women Leaving Prison: Beyond Punishment and Exclusion,” D. Fortune, J. Thompson, A. Pedlar and F. Yuan

“Between Good and Ghetto: African American Girls and Inner-City Violence,” Nikki Jones

“An Alternative to Suspension and Expulsion: ‘Circle Up!’, Eric Westervelt, NPR, December 2014.

“An Effective but Exhausting Alternative to School Suspensions” NYTimes, September, 2016.

We have used these readings and topics in our Decal, which was taught for four semesters from Spring 2017 to Fall 2018.

"Through the RJ Decal we have been able to provide a space outside of the typical construct of the classroom to build a small community of students at Berkeley from different disciplines, with varying interests, and from all walks of life. It has been incredible to be a part of creating an kind, loving and vulnerable space through our discussions and practice of Restorative Justice." -Salomé Ragot (Decal Co-Facilitator)