The Nova Scotia Restorative Justice Community University Research Alliance (NSRJ-CURA) is a collaborative research partnership between university and community partners. This partnership is funded primarily through a five-year, million dollar grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) through their CURA program. The NSRJ-CURA is also supported through, in kind contributions from, the university and community partners. Additional funding will be sought to support new research projects and specific events throughout the life of the original grant.
The NSRJ-CURA is focused on research related to the institutionalization of restorative justice practice with particular attention to the example of the Nova Scotia Restorative Justice Program (NSRJP). As one of the most comprehensive and developed restorative justice programs in the world, the Nova Scotia program provides a unique opportunity to explore questions that emerge beyond the pilot or nascent stage of restorative justice programs. The research agenda of the NSRJ-CURA will take advantage of the opportunities presented by the NSRJP to help elucidate and respond to some of the challenges of institutionalizing comprehensive restorative justice in theory and in practice. Through this research the NSRJ-CURA will contribute significantly to strengthening and developing the existing Nova Scotia Restorative Justice Program. It will provide new knowledge about restorative justice theory and practice to system actors, policy makers, and decision makers. It will also afford an opportunity for significant skills development and training for those actively engaged in the provision of services within NSRJ. This research will also hold significant insights for the development of restorative justice programs both nationally and globally. The NSRJ-CURA will also make an important contribution to the national and international scholarship and literature on restorative justice as it takes advantage of its unique position to explore issues of theory and practice within the context of the Nova Scotia program.
The NSRJ-CURA will offer significant opportunities and benefits for student education, training, and development. The NSRJ-CURA is committed to engaging students from multiple disciplines including law, sociology, and criminology, in its research through course development and innovation, graduate fellowships, internships, and as research assistants. Through this involvement the NSRJ-CURA will equip students to contribute to the development and operation of restorative justice as practitioners, researchers and/or scholars. The NSRJ-CURA will also provide important opportunities for students to develop empirical research, writing and presentation skills key for their future success.
The partners involved in the NSRJ-CURA represent all of the major institutional stakeholders in the Nova Scotia Restorative Justice Program.
The research will be pursued through a number of different research projects focusing on the theoretical and practical issues that arise with the development and application of restorative justice in a systematic and comprehensive way. There are 17 such projects planned to take place over the five year period of the CURA grant. Further projects may be undertaken in response to newly identified issues or in connection with new forged partnerships. The 17 research projects reflect five overarching themes related to institutionalization of restorative justice that inform and drive the research agenda of the NSRJ-CURA. They are:
University and community-based researchers will work closely to design, implement and realize this ambitious and significant research agenda. The NSRJ-CURA is committed to conducting research collaboratively between its community and university partners. To this end, community researchers will play an integral role in the governance, planning, implementation and dissemination of the research along with the university-based researchers. The governance structure of the NSRJ-CURA reflects this commitment to collaboration.