Restorative Justice at Naropa and Beyond

Candace Walworth, PhD, Peace Studies Program Chair

Group 1

Madison Spialek, a senior from Denver, and her friends in PAX 335 (“Socially Engaged Spirituality”) have participated in a series of community-based restorative justice classes this semester.

“During Roots of Injustice, Seeds of Change: Toward Right Relationship with Native Peoples my class and I had the opportunity to participate as actors in a story about the colonizers as well as the indigenous peoples of the United States,” wrote Madison.


“After the performance, we reflected on ways in which we can take action toward justice, healing, and ‘right relationship’ with Native peoples. I realized how little I know about this history. We need to continually raise awareness not only about the historical injustices committed against Native peoples but also the ongoing injustices being committed.”

Toward Right Relationship with America’s Native Peoples is a project of the Indigenous Peoples Concerns Committee of the Boulder Friends Meeting (Quakers), a collaboration “to create and/or support meaningful processes for truth, justice, reconciliation, and healing.” This was Paula Palmer’s third time to facilitate this dramatic, thought-provoking and collaborative workshop for Naropa students, staff and faculty.

paula palmer lincoln buildingMadison and her classmates also met and worked with Kathleen McGoey, executive director, Longmont Community Justice Partnership (LCJP), and Ken Keusenkothen, Principal at Recurve Group, this semester.

Kathleen and Ken engaged students in an exploration of the relationship between spirituality and restorative justice, providing background and insight into their work with LCJP, whose mission is to build “community through collaborative and inclusive restorative practices and give people the opportunity to heal and create justice in their communities and the world.” LCJP also offers training for schools and school districts interested in implementing Restorative Practices.

For most students, PAX 335 is their first gateway into restorative justice as a philosophy and way of life. Amrita Khalsa, a first-year student from Nara (Japan), describes restorative justice as “a process that gives voice to all members of a community affected by harm, providing opportunities to heal.”

After getting a taste of how restorative justice circles work, Amrita is thinking about volunteering with Longmont Community Justice Partnership. “This is a tangible, practical way to serve the community through action,” she says.

ken and blake

Peace Studies junior Blake Gibbins speaking with Ken Keusenkothen after class.

On April 12 at noon students will have yet another opportunity to dive deeply into the history and contemporary applications of restorative justice when Dr. Fania Davis delivers the 2017 Bayard and John Cobb peace lecture (“Restorative Justice: A Justice that Heals”). We hope you’ve already registered for this event, as we are at capacity. Please follow Naropa’s YouTube channel, where the event will be posted in the near future.

Dr. Davis is the co-founder and Director of Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth (RJOY) and a national thought leader in the field. A long-time social justice activist, a restorative justice scholar and professor, and a civil rights attorney with a PhD in indigenous knowledge, Dr. Davis came of age in Birmingham, Alabama during the social ferment of the civil rights era.

Watch a short clip of Professor Davis introducing Restorative Justice here:



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Naropa Campuses Closed on Friday, March 15, 2024

Due to adverse weather conditions, all Naropa campuses will be closed Friday, March 15, 2024.  All classes that require a physical presence on campus will be canceled. All online and low-residency programs are to meet as scheduled.

Based on the current weather forecast, the Healing with the Ancestors Talk & Breeze of Simplicity program scheduled for Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday will be held as planned.

Staff that do not work remotely or are scheduled to work on campus, can work remotely. Staff that routinely work remotely are expected to continue to do so.

As a reminder, notifications will be sent by e-mail and the LiveSafe app.  

Regardless of Naropa University’s decision, if you ever believe the weather conditions are unsafe, please contact your supervisor and professors.  Naropa University trusts you to make thoughtful and wise decisions based on the conditions and situation in which you find yourself in.