Professor Susan Brooks has received a Fulbright Global Scholar Fellowship, which will support a research project that she will conduct throughout the 2021-2022 academic year. Brooks’s research will focus on restorative justice practices in New Zealand, Israel, and West Philadelphia. Restorative justice is a model of peaceful conflict resolution that prioritizes the creation of community-led initiatives to prevent future violence and heal and restore community members who have experienced past harm.
Through her research, Brooks hopes to identify innovative and culturally responsive restorative justice approaches that can be applied to different situations in which harm has occurred or is likely to occur. She chose to conduct her research in New Zealand, Israel, and West Philadelphia because of the protracted ethnic and racial conflicts experienced there as well as the restorative justice work that is occurring in all three locations.
Restorative justice work “moves at the speed of trust,” according to Brooks, who recognizes that implementing culturally responsive restorative justice practices first requires spending time identifying the needs, interests, and strengths specific to the communities involved.
“For the U.S.-based portion of my research project,” said Brooks, “I’m working with a team of partners in West Philadelphia to identify community members’ concerns around issues of racial justice, equity, and inclusion, and who may already be doing peaceful conflict resolution work, even if they don’t call it restorative justice. We also have access to additional resources to support the existing racial healing work that’s happening on the ground. With the support of the Fulbright Fellowship, I’ll be able to gather similar information in collaboration with my partners abroad and their community experts. I hope the research findings from all three sites will inform future efforts to address conflicts across different cultural contexts as well as promote peacebuilding and safer neighborhoods and communities.
Brooks will begin her project in October in Israel, where she’ll stay for several months before traveling to New Zealand in the spring of 2022. During her field research, Brooks will partner with Professor Tali Gal, professor of Law and Criminology at the University of Haifa in Israel; Professor Katey Thom, a Senior Lecturer at the Auckland University of Technology Law School in Auckland, New Zealand; and Helen Bowen, a practicing lawyer and Restorative Justice Consultant, who is also based in Auckland.
Brooks, who recently stepped down from her role as the Associate Dean of Experiential Learning at Kline Law, will be on sabbatical throughout the entirety of her Fulbright grant.