UCCI Course Description

Restorative Justice: Impacting Campus and Community Through Service Learning

Overview Course Content Course Materials Related Resources
Length of Course
Full Year (2 semesters; 3 trimesters; 4 quarters)
Subject Area - Discipline
College-preparatory Elective (G) - Interdisciplinary
UC Honors Designation
CTE Sector
Public Services
CTE Pathway
Public Safety
Grade Level(s)
10 - 12


Restorative Justice: Impacting Campus and Community Through Service Learning is a an upper level college preparatory elective course integrated with the Public Services CTE sector. In this course, students will examine the roles of social workers, mediators, advocates, and law enforcement officers as peacekeepers and problem solvers in society. Students will begin with an introspective look at themselves and inner workings of the human brain as it pertains to conflict and conflict resolution and then utilize this knowledge as they explore the ideology that drives careers in various fields of public service. Throughout the course, students will develop a deeper understanding of the specific requirements and physical and emotional demands that are unique to these career fields. Students ultimately apply the knowledge they gain throughout the course by participating in service learning projects that require them to move beyond the classroom in their outreach efforts.

Recurring Assignment: On-going Journaling Assignment

Students will be introduced to an on-going assignment. Each week, students will keep a journal in which they reflect on their application of the skills learned in this course (circle keeping, affect labeling, de-escalation, conflict resolution). Students will reflect on how effective the techniques used were in the given situations, how their individual skills set is developing, and how they could have been more effective in each situation that they are journaling. In the final unit, students will use their journal entries throughout the year to write a culminating reflective essay.    

Course Content

Unit 1 : Conflict Resolution

Unit 1 Description

Conflict resolution is a critical skill in public service jobs. Students will better learn how to resolve conflict by learning first about their own competencies and also understanding the neurological processes that govern conflict resolution, formulating the concrete ability to recognize emotions in themselves and others. This allows them a better understanding of conflict and conflict resolution. Finally students will create a growth plan in which they describe how they plan to grow their skills set to become better problem solvers in a career in public service.

1:  Self Exploration Survey and Essay

Careers in Public Service require specific mental competencies that are acquired through practice and frequent self-assessment. To understand how their level of emotional intelligence measures up against the competencies required of careers in public services, students will take the Emotional Intelligence 2.0 Survey, which allows them to assess their personal and social competencies. This will provide a foundation of understanding about themselves and how these competencies can be applied to careers in public service of interest to them.  Based on their findings, students will reflect on their scores in a short essay.

2: Cooperative Learning and Small Group Presentation

To better understand how to resolve conflict, students need to understand the neuroanatomy of the human brain. Students will identify key components of the brain that affect emotions, future planning, and moral reasoning.  Students will work in collaborative teams of three to four to analyze social conflicts specific to their career path by using specific tools and diagrams to compare and contrast strategies that incorporate essential Emotional Intelligence skills.  Students will demonstrate their learning in a group presentation (power point, slide show, storyboard) utilizing the tools and terms learned, incorporating emotional literacy, de-escalation strategies, and connections to the neuroanatomy of the brain.

3: Emotional Intelligence Action Plan

Because careers in public service require constant learning and growth, students will use information and data gathered from  Assignments 1 and 2 specific to Emotional Intelligence skills and personal conflict styles to create an Emotional Intelligence action plan. To help develop their action plan, students will analyze the Ted Talk by Guy Winch Why We all need to practice Emotional First Aid. In that action plan,  students will identify an EQ core skill to focus on with 3 specific strategies to constructively manage conflict and discuss examples of how these strategies will be applied to their career path and  own lives.

4: Wheel of Choice

Students create a “Wheel of Choice” that includes techniques they can employ to manage self-care when working in a demanding role in public service. The wheel should include at least four different options, with an explanation of how the activity described in each area of the wheel contributes to expanding students’ overall emotional intelligence.

Unit 2 : Ideological Foundations

Now armed with a fuller understanding of emotional intelligence and its role in public services careers, students build on their knowledge by exploring the ideological foundations of careers in law enforcement, social work, mediation, and advocacy. Students read codes of ethics governing various organizations in the public services sector (e.g. Law Enforcement Code of Ethics; American Bar Association Code of Ethics), in order to understand how those codes influence and govern the work done within their respective sectors.

1: Code of Ethics Essay

Students will examine the similarities and differences between the role of a law enforcement officer and the role of a social worker or mediator. Students will compare and contrast the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics to either the American Bar Association Mediator Code of Ethics or the Social Worker Code of Ethics. Students will submit an explanatory essay in which they discuss the history and purpose of the two different documents. In the essay they, will compare and contrast the two documents. How are the documents similar? How are the documents different? How are these differences and similarities symbolic of the differences and similarities in the careers themselves?

2:  Ethical Decision Making

Students will be given a variety of ethics based scenarios that are commonly faced by professionals in public service. Using the Code of Ethics governing that profession, students will analyze each scenario and draft an appropriate ethical response.

Unit 3 : What Is "Justice"

Once students understand the ideologies that are the foundation of different public service career fields, they will then need to understand the way professionals in each field traditionally look at and understand what "justice" is. Retributive Justice is a more traditional look at how our justice system works, whereas Restorative Justice tends to be the more modern view on how our justice system should work. Students will work with both concepts and apply them in a variety of ways in this unit. Students will examine the philosophical similarities between careers in public service and restorative justice through examination of the codes of ethics that govern these careers. After reading the novel Whirligig, students will look at the traditional view of justice being retributive in nature versus the more modern view of justice being more restorative in nature. They will then decide which form of justice they believe would have been most effective in the context of the novel.

1: Retributive Justice vs. Restorative Justice Infographic

Students will examine and reflect on the Social Discipline Window, and a TED Talk by Dan Riesel on the Neuroscience of Restorative Justice.  Using these resources students will develop an awareness and foundational knowledge of the paradigm shift away from punitive authoritarian reactions towards relational authoritative responses in the public services pathways.  Students will create an infographic highlighting the paradigm shift and how it relates to the changing employment trends, societal needs, and economic changes in a career selected by the student of either social worker, advocate,  mediator, or law enforcement officer.

2: Retributive vs. Restorative Justice Novel and Essay

Students will read and examine the following text: the novel Whirligig by Paul Fleischman. After reading the text, students will draft an essay from the standpoint of a public service professional with the following prompts: Were Brent’s consequences retributive or restorative in nature? If you were assigned to this case, what type of restorative justice techniques could have been used in this case? How might this have created a different outcome for Brent in the novel?

3: Restorative Practices Demonstration

Students will work in groups of four to demonstrate a restorative process (mediation, responsive circle, etc.) that identifies the responsibilities, competencies, and cooperative behaviors that are necessary in their selected career path. Students will create an individual rubric based on their Emotional Intelligence Action Plan that will be peer assessed at the completion of the restorative process demonstration.

Unit 4 : Service Learning

Service learning involves moving beyond the classroom and into the community. Community involvement is critical in public services careers. In this unit, students will begin serving their community through outreach projects. The outreach projects are focused on common problems encountered by high school aged youth. These outreach projects will allow students to better understand how to help other students both on campus and in the community as a whole.

1: Community Resources

Students will be assigned an area of need and will research community resources available to help with that need (teen counselors, suicide prevention, substance abuse counseling, domestic violence advocacy, sexual assault advocacy, etc.).  Students will compile a list of several resources that are available to students of their campus. That list should include: website information, contact numbers, and types of services provided. The list will be published on campus (website, social media, hard copy).  Based on this research, students will create an informative poster. This poster should provide statistical information about the number of high school age students affected by the problem. The poster will also include contact information for resources available to students to help combat the given problem.

2: Public Service Announcement Video

Students will investigate a social issue (bullying, cyber-bullying, gossip, fights, etc). Students will create a public service announcement, in the form of a short video, addressing their given topic. In the video, students should reference the negative effects of the topic and should demonstrate a method for positively resolving the given issue. The completed video should be disseminated to the campus using social media outlets, if possible (facebook, twitter, instagram, youtube).

Unit 5 : Career Exploration

In this unit, students will begin to explore specific careers within the public services realm. This career exploration involves not only looking into the basic hiring requirements, but also looking into the physical and mental demands that are unique to these careers fields. Finally the students will write a 5-year plan that will guide them into one of these careers of their choosing.

Career Exploration and Plan

Students will identify a career, within one of the organizations listed above, that interests them. They will interview at least two employees in one of the organizations (in-person or by telephone) and should specifically inquire about the job duties, skills, and education requirements for employment. Students should also inquire about the physical, mental, and emotional stresses incurred in this career. They should ask about specific coping skills and mechanisms used by the people they interview.  This information will be presented to the class in the form of a powerpoint presentation. Using the information contained in their presentation, students will create a plan detailing how they will meet the requirements for employment in that career field within next 5 years.

Unit 6 : Culminating Project

In the culminating project, students will look back on the course as a whole. They will speak about specific skills learned and how those skills were put to use throughout the year. Students will also speak to their future career plans and how the skills learned might affect those plans.

Students will reflect on their weekly journal entries throughout the school year. Based on their journal, they will write a reflective essay in which they discuss their own personal growth in the skills developed and used in this course. They should discuss specific instances in which they saw an impact on others, based on the skills learned. Students should also discuss how they envision themselves using these skills in life and career in the future.

Course Materials

Title: Emotional Intelligence 2.0 (ISBN 978-0-9743206-2-5)
Edition: 1st
Publication Date: 2009
Publisher: Pearson Author(s): Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves
Usage: Primary Text; excerpts used as a background understanding.

Title: Whirligig
Edition: Any
Publication Date: October 2010
Publisher: Square Fish | Macmillan
Author: Paul Fleischman
Usage: Primary Text; excerpts used as a background understanding.

The Neuroscience of Restorative Justice
Publication Date: February 2013
Publisher: TED Talk
Author: Daniel Reisel
Usage: Primary Text

The Case for Emotional Hygiene
Publication Date: November 2014
Publisher: TED Talk
Author: Guy Winch
Usage: Primary Text.

Title: Implementing Restorative Practices in Schools
Edition: Any
Publication Date: 2013
Publisher: Jessica Kingsley Publishers
Author: Margaret Thorsborne and Peta Blood
Usage: Reference text for teacher.

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