Engaged Scholarship Courses

Aimed at bridging the gap between academic learning and service work, Engaged Scholarship courses in Social Studies combine rigorous reading and writing in the social sciences with public engagement. Two of the courses draw on the resources of the Phillips Brooks House and are open to students who are concurrently involved in relevant Harvard-affiliated service programs. All four courses offer students the opportunity to connect social science history and theory with practical experience, to actively shape classroom learning through personal involvement with service work, and to reflect on ways that the social sciences can contribute to addressing contemporary community needs and social problems.  

Enrollment will be limited to 10 students in each course. Courses are open to students in all concentrations as long as students meet the public service requirements (see individual course descriptions below for more details). If over-enrolled, courses will be lotteried with priority given to Social Studies concentrators.  

2021-22 Courses

Social Studies 68rj. Restorative and Transformative Justice - NEW
Bonnie Talbert
Half course (fall term). Friday 12:45-2:45.
Restorative justice (RJ) is a quickly growing field, and has become central to discussions of harm, crime, punishment, and power. Yet it is not obvious what the core ideas and practices of RJ are. This class will center on an examination of the rich diversity of understandings, practices, histories, and activist causes that are part of the multiplicity of RJ movements. Are there foundational ideas and practices that unite RJ programs? What inspires people to turn to RJ? What is the nature of the disagreements and conflicts that have emerged within the movement? How are we to understand the overlap and tensions between the agendas of restorative and transformative justice (TJ)?

One thing that has become clear is that RJ is not merely about a set of circle or conference practices. It is also a set of beliefs and teachings concerning how we relate to ourselves and our communities. These teachings do not merely lie behind the practices of RJ and TJ, they are an integral part of those practices. In trying to transform our patterns of responding to harm, these movements also seek to transform our ideas about how to conduct our daily lives. Just as we will critically assess the conferencing and circle practices of RJ and TJ we will likewise examine the everyday teachings of restorative living that are central to these movements.

This is an engaged scholarship course, and a guiding assumption is that students will be interested in applying RJ practices in a particular setting, organization, or group they are involved in. Resources and opportunities to practice RJ skills will be provided for students who want assistance in finding a context to practice RJ outside of class. In addition to discussing academic literature, case studies, interviews, etc., each class meeting will devote time to RJ practice. The first half of the course will focus our practice time on building circle fluency, while the later weeks will be focused on providing support as students take their practices to their communities.