Restorative Practices

Restorative practices is a philosophy and a set of formal and informal tools which view building relationships, repairing harm, and rebuilding trust when harm occurs as important ways to create a peaceful and productive society.  At UMBC, restorative practices helps us strengthen relationships between individuals as well as social connections within our community. The International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP) describes the outcomes of restorative practices implementation in communities and education settings as increased well-being, active and participatory learning, community building, decision-making, greater safety, and sense of belonging.

More information and current research about restorative practices can be found on the IIRP website. We recommend starting by reading Defining Restorative.

In Residential Life at UMBC, Restorative Practices is used by staff and students as a proactive way to build community and a responsive way to resolve conflict. For example, resident advisors use restorative tools, such as community-standard-setting circles, to build community and create ownership among residents.

When conflict occurs, Residential Life and Student Conduct and Community Standards support staff and students in engaging the restorative tools to resolve issues in a way that repairs harm and rebuilds trust.

All restorative practices rely on specific methods to encourage dialogue especially when harm has occurred, regardless of the restorative model used. For example, the questions below help stakeholders determine impact, repair harm, and hopefully re-establish relationships.

  • What happened?
  • What were you thinking at the time of the incident?
  • What have you thought about since?
  • Who has been affected by what happened and how?
  • What about this has been the hardest for you?
  • What do you think needs to be done to make things as right as possible?

Residential Life cultivates the capacity for community members to use restorative tools by incorporating restorative practices into our residential education plan, and training student leaders and student organizations on using restorative tools, and restorative leadership.

For more on restorative practices in our community check out these blog posts written by a UMBC student leader.

Events & Workshops

The vision of a UMBC delegation at this conference is that we would attend this conference as a group, spend a limited time together outside of the conference reflecting and debriefing and find community in our learning and interest.
The delegation will  be made up of folks who:
  • represent an array of units at UMBC
  • contribute to their unit/division by designing goals, outcomes or strategic plans as they relate to student and community wellbeing
  • who will find value in dedicated time to learn/consider how the tools and values of restorative practices can be used to foster wellbeing on campus.

Learn more about IRRP Conference

This one hour session is intended to be a primer on Restorative Practices. During the session facilitators will highlight how Restorative Practices has been implemented at UMBC, and will give a brief overview of the 2-day Restorative Practices workshops offered 3-4 times a year. 

The session can be modified to 90 minutes to include some skill building on basic restorative tools such as using affective statements and questions.

To request this session contact

Register for a Workshop or More Information

NEXT TRAINING DATE: June 7 and 8, 2022

In order to be a Restorative Practices Facilitator at UMBC, volunteers must attend a 2 day workshop that is offered, at a minimum, twice a year – once in the fall, and once in the spring. The workshops are held on the UMBC Campus, and typically begin at 9am and end at 4:30pm.

The training includes an orientation to the restorative philosophy at UMBC, facilitation skills and applications for community building and conflict resolution. We also discuss the goals of RP at UMBC. Follow up workshops are provided throughout the semester with a focus on shared learning and application of RP skills.  Throughout UMBC uses a co-facilitation model. Facilitators in training “shadow” more experienced facilitators by participating in the logistics of the training, and participating in conferences or circles as community members.

Training Topics:

  • Community Circles: Participants will actively engage in a community circles and delve into social-emotional community building procedures.
  • Restorative facilitation techniques: Experience a session integrating restorative techniques into your facilitation skills and practices. Expand your own practice and share with others.
  • Standards Setting Role play: Observe and participate in role-plays to create community standards. These have been used in many contexts including organization vision, mission and goal building, classroom management and conflict resolution.
  • Connecting with your community members: Learn a few lessons you can implement in your classroom to help create a positive classroom environment.

Day One: Developing a Restorative Worldview

This workshop will challenge you to think differently about how you build relationships, build community with groups and how we respond to conflict and incidents of harm. We will wrestle with the notions of discipline, conflict and justice through lecture, discussion, activities and role play-looking closely at what our current systems are accomplishing and if the real needs of victims, offenders and communities are being met. Ultimately, we will emerge from day one of the workshop with ideas of how we can use restorative practices as a way of thinking about how we exist in community with others.

Day Two: Using Restorative Tools

This workshop focuses on practical skills to setup and host a circle, how to use different types of circles and concrete tools and techniques to support engagement from participants in the circle process. The workshop uses adult education and experiential learning techniques, as well as activities and discussion.

Circles can be used for:

  • Establishing agreements on how community members will interact and engage with each other;
  • Creating a sense of shared responsibility for maintaining agreements inside and outside of the classroom;
  • Offering a way to address issues and have an open and honest discussion of these issues;
  • Providing a way to address and deal with conflict.

For questions and more information please email

In The News

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County is using restorative practices to address tension and create space for relationship and reconnection after the election. From David Hoffman, Director for UMBC’s Center for Civic Life and Democracy:

This unusually divisive election season coincides with a pandemic, economic uncertainty, new reminders of the prevalence and legacies of institutional racism, and violence and unrest around the world. The consequences of the election outcomes will affect each of us differently, in part because we are not equally vulnerable to the repercussions of public officials’ decisions and actions. These differences can weigh heavily on us and easily pull us apart. 

November 4, noon – 1 p.m.: After the Election: A Community Gathering, to reflect on the challenging months leading up to the 2020 election, discuss the status of the election results, and envision the road ahead. RSVP here.

In addition, a number of UMBC departments and organizations will host Together Beyond November events in the coming days. These will be small group conversations facilitated by UMBC community members to support participants in renewing connections, reflecting on the election and its aftermath, and helping each other through challenging times. Keep an eye out for details and invitations.

On September 17, 2020, UMBC co-hosted the second bi-annual meeting for restorative practitioners in student affairs in Maryland, with the University of Maryland College Park and the University of Maryland, Baltimore. The theme for this year’s virtual meeting was Community Building and Racial Healing. Over 100 participants logged on to hear from panelists using restorative practices in their work to address systemic racism, and tend to community.

UMBC hosted the first bi-annual meeting for restorative practitioners in student affairs in Maryland. With support from the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP), the Circle for Restorative Initiatives (CRI), Maryland, the Maryland College Student Personnel Administration (MCPA)  and the Association for Student Conduct Administrators (ASCA). More than 40 participants from nine institutions in MD, PA and DC met to discuss, network and learn around issues like how restorative practices advances campus and community wellbeing and the value of restorative practices in student affairs and higher education.  Questions:

Check out this recent Retriever article on the community effort and important partnerships behind Restorative Practices at UMBC!

UMBC Residential Life has been invited to showcase our use of Restorative Practices in Residential Education at ACPA’s Institute for the Curricular Approach (ICA) in Anaheim, CA in October!