International Institute for Restorative Practices

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The International Institute for Restorative Practices Graduate School (IIRP), based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, provides advanced education of professionals at the graduate level and conducts research in the field of restorative practices.[1]:4–5


The International Institute for Restorative Practices Graduate School grew out of the experience of the Community Service Foundation and Buxmont Academy (CSF Buxmont),[2] two Pennsylvania nonprofit organizations that have been providing education, counseling, residential and other services for troubled youth and their families in south eastern Pennsylvania since 1977.

In 1994 the strategies employed by CSF Buxmont were influenced by a practice developed in New Zealand and Australia, originally called the Family Group Conference, and by the criminal justice reform movement that began in North America called restorative justice. CSF Buxmont integrated those practices and philosophies into their own programs and then developed educational programs, websites, international conferences and publications in support of an emerging discipline that came to be known as restorative practices.

CSF Buxmont advanced the new field of restorative practices through the 1990s. In 1999 it decided to create a specialized scientific and educational institution to foster the development of restorative practices. The International Institute for Restorative Practices was incorporated in 2000 as a nonprofit organization in Pennsylvania. It received approval from the Pennsylvania Department of Education to become a specialized graduate degree-granting institution in 2006.

In 2011, the IIRP was granted accreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.[1]:6

Degree offerings[edit]

The IIRP offers master's degrees programs and a graduate certificate in restorative practices.[1]:9–10 Students have the option to complete most of their academic coursework online and via independent study.[3]


IIRP students include educators, counselors, social workers, criminal justice professionals, clergy, administrators and other adult learners.[4]


The underlying premise of restorative practices is simple: that people are happier, more cooperative and productive, and more likely to make positive changes when those in positions of authority do things with them, rather than to them or for them.[5] Punitive and authoritarian “to” styles or permissive and paternalistic “for” styles are not as effective as restorative and authoritative “with” styles — which encourage democratic participation and responsive leadership. Restorative practices have implications for education, counseling, parenting, social work, criminal justice, organizational management and regulating or managing any social phenomenon.[1]:4–6

Continuing education[edit]

The IIRP's division of continuing education offers restorative practices training, consulting and educational materials throughout the world. Learning modalities range from free webinars to multi-day events that provide practical skills and can be applied toward graduate credit with the addition of online course work. Topics include basic skills to proactively build relationships, reduce aggression, respond to harm, enhance leadership and related topics.

The IIRP and its related organizations have trained thousands of individuals since its inception as the Real Justice program in 1995.[6][7] There are five programs:

  • The SaferSanerSchools program[8] works with schools to improve school culture, decrease disruptive behavior and conflict and help students take responsibility for their behavior and academic performance.
  • The Real Justice program[9] works with police, probation and corrections to improve services for the three “customers” of the justice system: victims, offenders and the community.
  • The Building Campus Community program[10] works with college and university residential life administrators to provide residence advisers and their supervisors to engage residents, establish authority and uphold expectations, while providing support and giving voice to resident needs and concerns.
  • The Family Power program[11] works with social workers, treatment providers and others to improve family engagement and help young people make positive changes in their behavior.

Educational resources[edit]

The IIRP has produced educational materials, books and videos, illustrating the theory and processes of restorative practices.[12]

World conferences[edit]

The IIRP has sponsored 21 world conferences on restorative practices since 1998 for professionals in education, criminal justice, social services and other fields, who are engaging in implementation and research in restorative practices.[13]


  1. ^ a b c d Student Handbook and Catalog 2012-2013 (PDF). Bethlehem, Pennsylvania: International Institute for Restorative Practices. 2012. 
  2. ^ Wachtel, Ted. "Defining Restorative". Retrieved 24 September 2012. 
  3. ^ "Online Education". International Institute for Restorative Practices. Retrieved 2015-05-08. 
  4. ^ IIRP Factbook 2011 (PDF). International Institute for Restorative Practices. 2012. pp. 7–12. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Professional Development | International Institute for Restorative Practices". International Institute for Restorative Practices. Retrieved 2012-07-09. 
  7. ^ IIRP Fact Book 2009 (PDF). Bethlehem, Pennsylvania: International Institute for Restorative Practices. 2010. p. 14. 
  8. ^ "Restorative Practices in Educational Settings | Whole-School Change Program". SaferSanerSchools. Retrieved 2012-07-09. 
  9. ^ "Real Justice – Restorative Justice Conferences". Retrieved 2012-07-09. 
  10. ^ "Building Campus Community". Building Campus Community. Retrieved 24 September 2012. 
  11. ^ "Family Power – Family Group Decision Making Conference FGDM / FGC / Restorative". Retrieved 2012-07-09. 
  12. ^ "The IIRP Bookstore". International Institute for Restorative Practices. Retrieved 2012-07-09. 
  13. ^ "World Conferences". International Institute for Restorative Practices. Retrieved 2012-09-24. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°37′17″N 75°22′55″W / 40.62132°N 75.38199°W / 40.62132; -75.38199