Monday, March 15, 2010

Restorative Justice in Higher Education

This morning I have been involved at a technical-communications level for an event being held here on the campus of Eastern Mennonite University, the Symposium on Restorative Justice in Campus Conduct Administration. Held in the chapel at the seminary, I've been sitting behind the audio-visual equipment, flipping switches and turning dials to make sure presenters are heard, PowerPoint presentations are ready to go, and videotaping the various speakers. I've also been tweeting for the event like crazy on my iPod. All of this falls under the rubric of Marketing and Communications for the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding/CJP, so best of all...I'm getting paid to do all this fun stuff and listen to some excellent reflections on restorative justice in the arena of higher education! The event is, as the name implies, focused on student life/campus conduct issues in higher education, and has drawn four great scholar-practitioners who are all passionate about restorative justice.

So why blog about this event here? Well, the field of restorative justice, and its "grandfather," Howard Zehr (heavily involved in this event today, and the subsequent training), are a big part of why my family ended up moving to Virginia from our happy life in Iowa. So in the title of this blog, "Restorative Theology," there is a nod of respect and honor aimed at the field, and Howard's continuing mentoring influence on me, as I explore the intersections of theology and peacebuilding (within which restorative justice is included here at the CJP).

Another reason I make note of this here on the RT blog is the emerging sense that the arena of higher education might be a place where I continue to spend a decent chunk of my time, even beyond graduation from the CJP and Seminary in (hopefully) about two years. My spiritual-vocational discernment process has started to make a few things very clear to me over the past academic year, now nearing its end. The primary current emerging is that I love to teach, and I've been able to exercise that in a number of ways here on campus in this past year, both in my seminary internship and in my two professional roles on campus. So while I don't see myself working directly in the field of student life/campus conduct administration, which this RJ event is focused on, it very well could be an area I'm indirectly involved in down the road. I tend to be an integrative thinker and doer, so I'm keeping my eyes and ears open here at this event, with that internal processing and discernment going on.

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