The IIRP Presidential Paper Series highlights leading thinkers and new voices in the field of restorative practices, the science of relationships and community.

In this series, the IIRP looks forward to pushing the boundaries of this new social science. Papers explore innovative theory and applications in fields such as education, community health, social justice and organizational leadership, pointing to new directions for civil society advocates around the world.

Restorative literacies: working with students to teach reading and writing

Deborah L. Wolter, M.A.

Transforming Police Practice CoverPDF Download Abstract: Restorative literacies merges research in literacy with restorative practices to offer an approach that engages and empowers students, maximizes exploration of literacies, and fosters positive literacies identities. Not prescriptive or dogmatic to a particular program or model, restorative literacies embraces a wide variety of cognitive and metacognitive processes for reading and writing. However, it begins uniquely with educators learning to notice and listen for the stories students bring with them to their formal education in order to disrupt deficit mindsets, center literacies learners, and uphold voices. The author draws on 30 years’ experience to describe how she came to see the connection between behavior and literacy and how the Social Discipline Window inspired an approach to teaching literacy based on working with students. Citing extensive research in education and literacy, the paper also features an example of an educator learning how to teach in this agentive manner.

Wolter, D. (2024, Spring). Restorative literacies: working with students to teach reading and writing. IIRP Presidential Paper Series, 10, 1-26.

A restorative framework for transforming police practice

Kerry Clamp, Ph.D.

Transforming Police Practice CoverPDF DownloadAbstract: Our policing institutions are in a state of crisis. This article argues that meaningful reform will require cultural transformation that places community and relationships at the core of frontline policing. The integration of restorative practice—restorative principles and techniques—is presented as a better approach to reform than other solutions currently on offer. While fully acknowledging that restorative justice in policing is one of the most contested areas of application, this article asserts that objections are principally based on an overly restrictive view of police officers as facilitators. Much less attention has been given to how restorative practice can frame frontline policing to improve staff morale and increase positive police–community interactions. This article plugs that gap. Drawing on more than a decade of research, I propose foundational components of an explicit practice framework for restorative policing and outline the potential outcomes for frontline officers and the communities they serve.

Clamp, K. (2023, Fall). A restorative framework for transforming police practice. IIRP Presidential Paper Series, 9, 1-25.

A restorative practices strategy to advance community health

Gina Baral Abrams, Dr.P.H., Ed.M., LSW, MCHES®

PDF DownloadAbstract: The field of community health aims to improve the social determinants of health which can reduce health disparities and enhance health equity. Models such as the social-ecological model are commonly used by community health professionals to show the interplay of social and other factors as supporting or inhibiting a community’s health. In this paper, the evolution of the community health field is traced, leading up to the recent U.S. Surgeon General’s report, Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation. The author suggests that, in addition to the work that has been done to identify key factors and dynamics, it is necessary to focus explicitly on how we strengthen relationships and community. Integrating principles from the social-ecological model, a new model is presented to describe how restorative practices can be used to advance community health goals by focusing on social connection, facilitating community engagement, fostering positive social norms, nurturing collaboration, addressing harm and healing, and increasing equity in systems and policy. Implications for future research and practice are discussed.

Abrams, G. B. (2023, Summer). A restorative practices strategy to advance community health. IIRP Presidential Paper Series, 8, 1-24.

Creating cultural change in education

Keith Hickman, M.S.

Creating Cultural Change Cover ImagePDF DownloadAbstract: Restorative practices has received national recognition for its positive impact on school climate and culture when addressing student and staff conflict. Research has led to questions about producing consistent results and the sustainability of restorative programs. Using a decade of experience implementing restorative practices into K–12 through the Whole-School Change Program of the IIRP Graduate School, the author will argue that two additional resources should be used to improve results: implementation science to ensure that the program is enacted with fidelity, and a human capital framework to maximize resources and provide sustainability. He will show how their use will result in co-created strategic plans, additional identified resources, data monitoring, and evaluation. He suggests that implementation science and human capital theory can help transform the experience of introducing a new program from something that is reactive to proactive. Instead of situations where front line staff, teachers, and counselors bear the direct burden for the effort and are expected to deliver results with few resources and limited support, they will be engaged as collaborators from the preparation phase and supported as partners throughout the process. The results for students could be transformative rather than transactional, offering them opportunities for meaningful engagement and belonging within a school system.

Hickman, K. (2022, Fall). Creating cultural change in education. IIRP Presidential Paper Series, 7, 1-21.

Using Fair Process to build online graduate student services

Jamie Kaintz, M.S.

Student Service Cover ImagePDF DownloadAbstract: This paper will offer the experiences of a specialized graduate school as a model of how to build services for online graduate students through a restorative practices framework, specifically the use of fair process and the crucial role of feedback in all three stages of fair process. Additionally, using fair process and feedback can help institutions to build community by creating strong, ongoing relationships between students, staff, and faculty. These relationships can help with a range of institutional goals such as student satisfaction, retention, and ongoing alumni engagement. While fair process and feedback do have the potential to greatly benefit the student experience and the institution, some challenges to successful implementation will also be discussed. The author will draw on research from others in the field of higher education and use examples and observations from her own experience in creating and improving student services for online graduate students.

Kaintz, J. (2022, Spring). Using Fair Process to build online graduate student services. IIRP Presidential Paper Series, 6, 1-28.

Bruising and healing: The dynamics of resolving grievances

Borbála Fellegi, Ph.D.

PDF Download (English)PDF Download (Hungarian)Abstract: In our interpersonal relations, both in the communities surrounding us and as part of the processes taking place on a societal level, we encounter conflicts and suffer “bruises”—the wounds that these conflicts inflict. The parties concerned can talk about the injuries suffered or can avoid each other; they can get closer to or further away from each other. This article features models of a Reconciliation Spiral and a Distancing Spiral that identify a range of points in each process that can help us understand the dynamics that can drive movement toward one or the other. The models are supported by established research in the field, the author’s education in criminological and psychological research, and her experience in conflict resolution projects and cases working in mediation/conflict management in Hungary. Stressing that the models she offers are not prescriptive, but rather descriptive of the general shape and flow of the processes of reconciliation and separation that she has witnessed, the author helps to identify key places where specific responses and actions can support creating dialogue for reconciliation.

Fellegi, B. (2021, Fall). Bruising and healing: The dynamics of resolving grievances. IIRP Presidential Paper Series, 5, 1-30.

Processing trauma using the Relational Care Ladder

Frida C. Rundell, Ph.D., LPC

PDF DownloadAbstract: While the process of dealing with trauma is complex, the Relational Care Ladder offers a helpful framework that focuses on supporting the need for safety, awareness, the expression of feelings, and empowerment for children growing up. The Relational Care Ladder allows practitioners to recognize developmental gaps in children or youth, address immediate behavioral issues, and prevent or ease trauma following them into adulthood. Grounded in the work of developmental theorists, the Relational Care Ladder was developed by the author based on years of experience in educational psychology and restorative practices.

When working with young people who’ve experienced trauma, it is critical that adults and other professionals are accountable for creating structure, nurturing, and supporting engagement and appropriate confrontation skills. If adults neglect or fail to provide the rungs of the Relational Care Ladder, children and youth may experience trauma and a deregulation of the central nervous pathways. Support and regulation from professionals and parents are pivotal in trauma proofing our developing youth. This paper offers an explanation of the rungs in the Relational Care Ladder as a quick and easy framework that adults, professionals, and parents may use. Further, restorative processes are shown to be supportive of this work. The Relational Care Ladder provides appropriate guidance when one’s emotions demonstrate implicit trauma memory experiences. Adults, whether parent or professionals, communicate equal accountability for meeting and attending to children’s or client’s respective needs. The range of applicability of the Relational Care Ladder framework will be discussed.

Rundell, F. C. (2021, Summer). Processing trauma using the Relational Care Ladder. IIRP Presidential Paper Series, 4, 1-20.

Sparking creativity: Workplace applications of restorative practices

Linda Kligman, Ph.D.

PDF DownloadAbstract: Businesses that embrace restorative practices have the advantage of creating intentional workplaces where it is safe to innovate. Studies have shown that diverse perspectives, shared learning, and experimentation are factors that spur innovation. In a restorative work environment, high support is provided to learn and grow, raise concern, and try new things. With high levels of inclusion and energy, restorative practices can help establish group norms, manage expectations, and develop essential interpersonal skills for collaboration. The author draws on Keith Sawyer’s research in group creativity and Sunnie Giles’s studies that scaffold leadership skills to support global innovation, and shares stories that help translate theory into practice. Examples from the International Institute for Restorative Practices depict principles, habits, and team builders that illustrate how restorative practices can spark creativity. The power of connections, conversations, and collaboration explicitly creates an innovative participatory work culture.

Kligman, L. (2021, Spring). Sparking creativity: Workplace applications of restorative practices. IIRP Presidential Paper Series, 3, 1-22.

Sexual assault, corporate crime and restorative practices

John Braithwaite, Ph.D.

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Abstract: Recognizing that punitive approaches to inappropriate behavior were ineffective in producing desired change, schools employed restorative practices to learn with students how to recognize harmful actions, deal with conflicts effectively and change behavior. Historically, societal responses to criminal behavior also intended to educate and change behavior, but have had limited success in this outcome, often ending only in warehousing offenders. But I argue that learning remains a viable, if unrealized response, that I illustrate in the areas of corporate crime and sexual and gender-based crime. Punitive criminal law certainly has a place in addressing crimes of this kind, but restorative justice responses offer an opportunity to learn with offenders how to change behavior for the future so as to prevent these crimes. Innovative research and development can show us how to integrate punitive criminal law with restorative justice and other completely new justice strategies.

Braithwaite, J. (2020, Fall). Sexual assault, corporate crime, and restorative practices. IIRP Presidential Paper Series, 2, 1-23.

A science of human dignity: Belonging, voice and agency as universal human needs

John W. Bailie, Ph.D.

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Abstract: The desire to be treated with dignity is common to all human relationships. This desire manifests as the need to belong, to have voice, and to exercise agency in one’s own affairs. In its concern for these three areas of human need, restorative practices scholarship is beginning to provide a frame for the concept of human dignity that is communicable across cultures and disciplines via the language of the social sciences and testable through experimentation and research.

Bailie, J. W. (2019, Spring). A science of human dignity: Belonging, voice and agency as universal human needs. IIRP Presidential Paper Series, 1, 1–16.

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