Responding Restoratively to Student Misconduct and Professional Regulation – The Case of Dalhousie Dentistry

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Book Chapter

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Human Rights Law, Restorative justice and responsive regulation, conceptual and practical levels, common expressions of relational theory and practice


The 2015 restorative justice process at Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Dentistry is a case study that reveals the connection at conceptual and practical levels between restorative justice and responsive regulation as common expressions of relational theory and practice. Their relationship is clearest when, as in this case, issues are understood in their full contexts and circumstances require a widening of the circle of issues and parties. At this scale the complexity of the situation and the need for responsive interventions capable of supporting and sustaining a just relationship is revealed.

The incident at Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Dentistry involved a private Facebook group established by male class members containing sexist and hurtful comments about female classmates and others. At first blush the incident might appear one of interpersonal harm ripe for a restorative justice process. However, several of the female students involved insisted the nature of the situation was more complex. The behaviours in question were reflective of, and contributed to, a deeply structured culture of discrimination and oppression within the Faculty and the profession. A responsive approach was required, in their view, to secure lasting change in the climate and culture within the educational and profession spheres. The resulting process moved parties beyond their adversarial relations to shared understanding necessary for transformation of climate and culture.


From the selected works of Jennifer Llewellyn.