Certificate in Restorative Justice Facilitation and Leadership

rj circle of participants

About Restorative Justice

Restorative Justice is a philosophical approach that embraces the reparation of harm and healing of trauma. A central practice of restorative justice is a collaborative decision-making process that includes harmed parties, people who have caused harm, and others who are seeking active accountability by:

  • Accepting and acknowledging responsibility for causing harm;
  • Repairing the harm caused to harmed parties and the community;
  • Rebuilding trust by showing understanding of the harm, addressing personal issues, and building positive social connections;
  • Addressing root causes, systemic inequalities, and social injustices that creates the conditions in which harm occurs.
In educational communities, restorative practices include three tiers of intervention:
Tier I: Restorative circles for community building and improving campus climate
Tier II: Restorative conferences for incidents of harm
Tier III: Restorative circles for effective reintegration after separation


USD’s Graduate Certificate provides a comprehensive introduction to RJ facilitation through online coursework and a skill-building intensive workshop at USD.  This hybrid program enables students to complete the introductory and capstone courses online and at home. The skill-building intensive is a five-day course held on campus at the University of San Diego and an important opportunity for face-to-face experiential learning and direct coaching. The certificate is obtained by participating in the following courses:

(1) LEAD 540-Introduction to Restorative Justice: A Global Social Movement (Online) - 3 Credits

This seven-module asynchronous 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. Students 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.

(2) LEAD 541-Restorative Justice Facilitation Skill-Building Intensive - 3 Credits

*NOTE: During COVID-19, this course will be offered online over a six-week period instead of a five-day intensive.

This five-day course is an intensive skill-building workshop in restorative practices held at the University of San Diego. The focus is developing facilitation skills necessary for hosting restorative dialogues. We will develop skills for both “restorative circles” and “restorative conferences,” two distinct and commonly used restorative practices. Each requires three distinct skill-sets: pre-dialogue preparation and assessment skills; dialogue facilitation; and post-dialogue mentoring and support skills. The course is highly experiential with intensive role play and debriefing.

(3) LEAD 542- Restorative Justice Practicum (Online) - 3 Credits

This 14-week practicum is a supervised independent study in applied practice. As a capstone, students are expected to apply their facilitation skills in a volunteer or professional capacity. The capstone is designed to be an online community of practice where students regularly reflect on their facilitation and receive mentoring from the instructor and feedback from their peer, apprentice facilitators.

Why a Certificate?

The field of restorative justice is growing rapidly. Demand for skilled practitioners is growing faster than supply. As a result, many people are hired to deliver RJ facilitation who have little background in practice or limited training. Many people are offering quick, superficial trainings because they see opportunity, but they themselves have little experience with the practice. The result is often poor-quality RJ programs that fail to meet the needs of the communities they serve.

This academic certificate is designed to…

  • Provide participants with the broad knowledge about restorative justice necessary to evaluate good from bad practice.
  • Connect participants to practitioners with years of experience across a variety of settings and a range of cases from simple to highly complex.
  • Ensure skillful practice by including academic study and experiential learning.
  • Create an apprenticeship that includes a community of learners who can support one another while receiving close mentoring and support from advanced trainer/facilitators.
  • Build a strong, diverse community of practitioners that can obtain restorative justice job positions and provide leadership in the field.

Learning Goals

  • 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 RJ 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.
  • Understand the relationship between theory and practice of restorative justice.
  • Distinguish and apply various restorative practices, especially circles and conferencing.
  • Demonstrate competence in restorative process from pre-dialogue preparation to dialogue facilitation to post-dialogue mentoring and support.
  • Develop strong commitment to facilitation self-reflection and co-facilitator debriefing and support for ongoing skill development.
  • Create a community of practice for continued learning.
  • Practice the tenets of restorative leadership and consider one’s role with the larger restorative justice movement.


Restorative justice is a global social movement with growth in a variety of settings including K-12 schools, 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. The certificate combines an academic understanding of RJ with experiential learning to ensure skillful facilitation.

The Certificate in RJ is offered by the USD Center for Restorative Justice, housed in the Leadership Studies Department in the School of Leadership and Education Sciences. The certificate is designed for professional practice with a goal of building a new generation of restorative justice leaders.


Courses by Term: Start in Fall 2020  schedule for fall start, take a course each in fall, intersession and spring


Courses by Term: Start in Spring 2021schedule spring summer fall sequence

Application Process

Current USD graduate students may enroll in courses through the standard registration procedure.  Students should also complete this Change of Program or Emphasis form to have the certificate program officially added to your record as a concurrent program.

Non-USD students, seeking graduate credit, can apply to USD's Open Campus program (must have a BA). Generally, non-USD people should seek the Professional Certificate

Undergraduate USD students should contact David Karp to discuss options.

Certificate Instructors

David R. Karp, PhDDK headshot

Director of the Center for Restorative Justice 
Professor of Leadership
Curriculum Vita (with links to publications)

David Karp is a professor 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 as well as the 2011 Donald D. Gehring Award from the Association for Student Conduct Administration. David has published more than one hundred academic papers and six books, including The Little Book of Restorative Justice for Colleges and UniversitiesWounds 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. 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.

Justine Darling, PhDJustine

Justine began her restorative journey as a GED teacher and legal advocate for homeless youth at the Covenant House in Newark, New Jersey. Her passion for addressing the school to prison pipeline led her to pursue an MA in Peace and Justice Studies at the University of San Diego and a PhD in Education at San Diego State University. Justine is a restorative trainer, facilitator, consultant, and researcher focused on addressing inequities in schools and communities through the use of restorative justice practices. In 2011, she co-founded the restorative justice program at the University of San Diego, which supports residential life, student affairs and the conduct office in using both proactive and responsive restorative processes to build a stronger community and address harms in a relational way. Most recently she served as the Director of Restorative Justice Practices at the National Conflict Resolution Center overseeing restorative implementation across San Diego in K-12 schools, universities, communities, organizations, and the criminal justice system. Currently, Justine teaches at San Diego State University in the hybrid online Masters in Counseling Program and is a Faculty Fellow in the Honors College. She has also had the honor of learning first hand from global restorative practices including the Youth Justice Agency in Northern Ireland, the Gacaca Courts of Rwanda, and the Maori Family Group Conferencing in New Zealand. 

Sean Horrigan, PhDSean Horrigan portrait.

Director of University Centers and Staff Development
University of San Diego

Sean Horrigan, PhD, is the Director of University Centers and Staff Development at the University of San Diego (USD). Previously, he served as the Director of Student Conduct and founded the restorative justice program at USD implementing restorative practices across various functional areas in Student Affairs. He has lectured in USD's School of Leadership and Education Sciences and is an adjunct faculty member in the College of Professional Studies at National University teaching courses in leadership, group dynamics, and adult development. Sean serves on the Board of Trustees of the Tariq Khamisa Foundation whose mission is to promote safer schools and communities through education in the restorative principles of compassion, forgiveness, and peacemaking. He has a BA in Education from the University of Northern Iowa and an MA and PhD in Leadership Studies from the University of San Diego. At USD's Center for Restorative Justice he is on the leadership team of the RJNCC (Restorative Justice Network of Catholic Campuses) and is a restorative justice facilitator and trainer.