The Certificate in Restorative Justice (CRJ) program at Governors State University combines faculty expertise in restorative justice with a multidisciplinary approach to justice in theory and practice. Students who complete this certificate– whether on its own or in conjunction with a master’s degree program in Education, Criminal Justice, or Political & Social Justice Studies–build a philosophical foundation in justice, learn best practices of restorative justice, and apply their skills and training toward more effective work in their local communities. Students will investigate a range of topics in the classroom and in the field, including restorative justice in legal, educational, urban, environmental, local, and global contexts.

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There is growing recognition both locally and globally of the need for non-carceral conceptions of justice, reintegration, and reconciliation, within law enforcement and courts but also in our schools, communities, and other organizations. Social, ethical and environmental responsibility is among GSU’s stated strategic goals. This means incorporating restorative practices into prevention and accountability for academic misconduct, harassment, and discrimination. It also means stimulating educational, environmental, and economic development in Chicago and beyond. Multiple GSU values are directly relevant to the Certificate in Restorative Justice, including preparing stewards of our future, demonstrating inclusiveness and diversity, and providing opportunity and access to a first-class public education.

In recent years, the Chicago Public Schools (CPS), Cook County State’s Attorney, and Illinois Attorney General have all affirmed the need for restorative justice. CPS has begun to hire Restorative Justice Coordinators, the Circuit Court of Cook County now has Restorative Justice Courts, and the US Department of Justice recognizes the Illinois juvenile justice system’s approach to “Balanced and Restorative Justice” as a model for juvenile justice. Thus, there is a demonstrated need for excellent, accessible training in the principles and practices of restorative justice.


Online and hybrid instructional deliveries can accommodate the needs of local, regional, and international students, bringing them together as a cohort in an intensive 6-week session studying restorative justice practices on campus and across Chicago before they return to apply what they have learned in their local communities.

Certificate Requirements

To fulfill the requirements for the Certificate in Restorative Justice, a student must complete 15-18 total credit hours, including 12 credits for required courses and 3-6 credits for elective courses, with a grade of C or better in each course:

Required Courses (12 Credit Hours)

  • • CJUS 6500: Restorative Justice Practices

  • • CJUS 8400: The Justice System and Community

  • • PSJS 6250: Community Justice

  • • PSJS 8150: Contemporary Theories of Social Justice

Elective Courses (3-6 Credit Hours)

  • • CJUS 6340: Restorative Justice in Education

  • • PSJS 6440: Environmental Justice

  • • PSJS 6650: Empowering Community

Earn Your Certificate While Getting Your Master's Degree

Students pursuing a masters degree in Criminal Justice, Education, or Political & Social Justice Studies can count their certificate coursework toward these programs.

  • CJUS: Students pursuing the Certificate in Restorative Justice can apply 12 credits of coursework toward a Criminal Justice M.A.

  • PSJS: Students pursuing the Certificate in Restorative Justice can apply 12 credits of coursework toward a Political & Social Justice Studies M.A.

  • Education: We anticipate that students pursuing the Certificate in Restorative Justice will be able to apply all 18 credits of certificate coursework toward a master’s degree in Education, in which students could stack 18 core-area credits with 18 specialized-area credits in restorative justice.

Program Outcome Objectives

  • • Present the theoretical and practical foundations of restorative justice.

  • • Apply foundational principles and practices toward issues of environmental, distributive, and social justice, including community reintegration of formerly incarcerated persons, community development, racial disparity, immigration and multiculturalism.

  • • Apply and implement comprehensive restorative justice analyses in local, state, national, and international contexts.

  • • Co-create community collaborative strategies in implementation of restorative justice.

Course Descriptions

CJUS 6340: Restorative Justice in Education

Investigates the implementation and support of restorative practices in schools, other educational systems, and community-based organizations. [Professor: Hall]

CJUS 6500: Restorative Justice Practices

Surveys restorative processes used in conflict circumstances in diverse settings, including victim-offender mediation, peace circles, family conferencing, and other practical applications. Discusses the social relevance of each of these restorative processes and their limitations. [Professor: Salm]

CJUS 8400: The Justice System and Community

Focusing on collaborate strategies and approaches to solving crime and public safety problems, crime prevention, crime problem-solving, restorative justice, and therapeutic jurisprudence (drug courts, mental health courts, best practice models). [Professor: Salm]

PSJS 6250: Community Justice

Enables theoretical and practical consideration of the aspects of the justice system that comprise community justice, including repairing harm, reducing risk and empowering community. Examines community justice principles and how they relate to restorative justice. [Professor: Salm]

PSJS 6440: Environmental Justice

Surveys theories, practices, and selected key issues related to environmental justice, including modern problems of environmental protection, regulation, policy, and inequity. Applies theories and study of major environmental problems through case studies and policy analysis. [Professors: Almassi; Kostarelos]

PSJS 6650: Empowering Community

Explores the relationship between the individual and the community with the goal of promoting service learning and civic engagement. Approaches of both theoretical and applied nature will be examined with the goal of promoting future engagement in community organizations. [Professors: Culverson; Marrar]

PSJS 8150: Contemporary Theories of Social Justice

Provides an overview of major currents of political and social thought in the post-enlightenment period. Examines social justice and the proper relationship between individual, state, and society. [Professors: Almassi; Warmington-Granston]

Faculty Information

Ben Almassi

Ben Almassi is an Associate Professor of Philosophy, Program Coordinator for Interdisciplinary Studies, and an Affiliated Professor in Gender & Sexuality Studies and Political & Social Justice Studies. Dr. Almassi earned his doctorate in philosophy from the University of Washington (2009) is the author of Reparative Environmental Justice in a World of Wounds (Lexington Books, 2020).

Don Culverson

Don Culverson is a Full Professor of Political Science and Affiliated Professor in Political & So-cial Justice Studies and Public Administration. Dr. Culverson earned his doctorate in political sci-ence from University of California–Santa Barbara (1987) and is the author of Contesting Apartheid: US Activism 1960-1987 (Routledge, 2019).

Essie Hall

Essie Hall is a Visiting Assistant Professor in Criminal Justice and the Division of Arts & Letters. Dr. Hall earned her doctorate in Educational Psychology from Loyola University–Chicago (2012) and previously taught in the Education Department at Chicago State University.

Fran Kostarelos

Fran Kostarelos is a Full Professor of Anthropology and Sociology and an Affiliated Professor in Political & Social Justice Studies. Dr. Kostarelos earned her doctorate in anthropology from the University of Chicago (1989) and is the author of Feeling the Spirit: Faith and Hope in a Black Evangelical Storefront Church (University of South Carolina Press, 1995).

Khalil Marrar

Khalil Marrar is an Associate Professor of Political Science and an Affiliated Professor of Gender & Sexuality Studies and Political & Social Justice Studies. Dr. Marrar earned his doctorate in polit-ical science at Loyola University–Chicago (2007) and is the author of The Arab Lobby and US Foreign Policy (Routledge, 2008).

Joao Salm

Joao Salm is an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice and an Affiliated Professor in Political & Social Justice Studies. Dr. Salm earned his doctorate in Justice Studies at Arizona State University (2009) and has written and edited numerous scholarly publications on restorative justice including Citizenship, Restorative Justice, and Environment (2016) and “Restorative Justice: A Substantive, Intergenerational, and Ecological Approach in the Amazon Region of Brazil” in Contemporary Justice Review (2021). He has been a consultant to the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund and a visiting scholar at the Howard Zehr Institute for Restorative Justice.

Nicole Warmington-Granston

Nicole Warmington-Granston is an Associate Professor of Political Science, Program Coordinator for Political & Social Justice Studies, and an Affiliated Professor in Global Studies and Public Administration. Dr. Warmington-Granston earned her doctorate in political science from Florida International University (2015) and is the author of “State-Building in the Anglo-Caribbean” in Journal of Global South Studies (2020).

Admission Requirements

In addition to university admissions requirements, applicants to the Graduate Certificate in Restorative Justice (Program Code: RESJ.GR.CERT) must submit:

  • 1. A letter of application, including a statement of personal interest in pursuing a Certificate in Re-storative Justice. This statement should include the applicant's short- and long-term goals and how this certificate might help to achieve them.

  • 2. At least one confidential letter of recommendation from a professional reference (current or for-mer faculty members, current or former work supervisors, or community leaders) speaking to the applicant’s interests and abilities relevant to the Certificate in Restorative Justice.

Prospective students not already enrolled in a GSU graduate program should submit a completed application by June 1 for full consideration (late applications will also be accepted). Additional ma-terial such as a scholarly writing sample may be requested by the admissions committee or submit-ted voluntarily by an applicant toward admission consideration. The admissions committee takes into consideration strong letters of recommendation from professional references that attest to the applicant’s writing and communication skills and examples of their leadership ability.

International students interested in the Certificate in Restorative Justice should contact the Office of International Services for assistance with both university admission and US immigration documentation.

Students already enrolled in the Education, CJUS, PSJS, or other GSU graduate degree programs interested in pursuing the Certificate in Restorative Justice must simply meet with their academic advisor to formally indicate their interest in doing so.

Transfer Credits: providing that university policies regarding transfer of graduate credits are met, transfer credits will only be accepted for graduate courses taken at accredited institutions. At most six (6) hours of transferable credits can be put toward the Certificate in Restorative Justice.

Contact Information

Questions? Feel free to reach out to Dr. Almassi or Dr. Salm for more information about the Certificate in Restorative Justice program.

Ben Almassi

Joao Salm