In an enlightening presentation, Professor Jennifer Llewellyn, a renowned law scholar from the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University, introduced attendees to the groundbreaking vision and plans of the newly minted Restorative Research, Innovation and Education Lab (RRIELab). With her extensive background in human rights law, relational theory, and restorative justice, Llewellyn’s exposition carried the weight of authority and expertise.
Llewellyn began by underscoring the pivotal role that the term “Lab” plays in the RRIELab’s name. More than just a catchy title, it symbolizes a dedicated arena for cultivating, sharing, and mobilizing knowledge that can lead to actionable change. Delving into the vision, Llewellyn painted a vivid picture of a transformative “change lab,” deeply anchored in the principles of a restorative approach. Such an approach prioritizes relationships and interconnectedness, seeking to rebuild and reconcile rather than merely penalize.
A significant part of the presentation was dedicated to discussing the potential of RRIELab in furthering the field of restorative research. Llewellyn emphasized how this initiative seeks to bridge the existing chasm between research, practice, policy-making, and education. By fostering seamless communication and collaboration amongst these different sectors, RRIELab envisions a future where theoretical knowledge is efficiently translated into real-world action.
Another intriguing facet of the RRIELab, as highlighted by Llewellyn, is its international reach. While the lab is situated in Nova Scotia, Canada, its ambitions transcend national borders. It aims to act as a nexus for researchers, policymakers, educators, and practitioners across the globe, creating a thriving international network dedicated to restorative practices. This global community will further be nurtured by the Restorative Approach International Learning Community (ILC). The ILC, as Llewellyn elaborated, represents a conglomerate of international entities, all united by the shared objective of fostering restorative communities, be they cities, states, or entire nations.
Llewellyn’s presentation resonated deeply with the audience, particularly when she touched upon the topic of justice transformation and the importance of reconciliation. Drawing from her research in areas of peacebuilding, truth, and reconciliation, she illustrated the urgent need for initiatives like RRIELab in today’s polarized world.
Fielding questions from the audience, Llewellyn reiterated the importance of a “relational” approach. She spoke about the necessity of viewing issues not in isolation but in the context of their relationships and interconnections, emphasizing that true justice cannot be achieved without acknowledging these ties.
In concluding, Professor Jennifer Llewellyn’s exposition on the RRIELab was not just an introduction to a new research initiative. It was a call to action. A plea for academics, practitioners, policymakers, and educators to embrace a holistic and relational approach to justice, reconciliation, and community-building. With entities like RRIELab leading the charge, the future of restorative research and practice appears promising, and it’s exciting to envision the transformative change it can usher in.