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Restorative Justice, Institutional Systems, Social Systems


It is our pleasure to introduce and frame this Special Issue of The International Journal of Restorative Justice. This Special Issue seeks to advance and expand thinking, research and practice of a restorative approach at the level of institutions and social systems, from families to workplaces. The articles and notes from the field included here were developed out of the 2016 International Conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia, that shared the title and focus of this issue. The conference was held to fulfil a commitment made by the parties involved in a restorative justice process at the Faculty of Dentistry, Dalhousie University, in 2015 (Llewellyn et al, 2015). As Mary McNally's note from the field (this issue) explains, the process was undertaken to deal with harms related to a private Facebook group that contained sexist and other harmful comments from a group of male fourth-year students directed at their female classmates and more generally reflecting unprofessional behaviour.' Many in the university, the professional and the general public assumed that the restorative justice process was focused at the level of the interpersonal relationships and harms involved in the incident. In fact, however, the process revealed and responded to the significant institutional climate and culture issues that were reflected in and structuring the interpersonal relationships involved. It also became clear through the process that examining and shifting interpersonal relationships was the key to bringing the institutional level changes required within the faculty, the university and the profession to address the issues and harms involved and to bring change for the future. This broader focus brought by a restorative approach was surprising to many outside and even some inside the field of restorative justice. It stretched the relational ecology of restorative justice from the use of tools and practices for conflict resolution and discipline to the level of institutions and systems by attending to their relational nature and impact expressed through climate and culture.

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Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.