UMass Dartmouth Receives Grant to Establish Transformative Justice Center – New Bedford Guide

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The Massachusetts Board of Higher Education awarded the University and its partners Massasoit Community College and UMass Law $150,000 to establish a transformative justice program and center.

UMass Dartmouth recently received a $150,000 grant from the Massachusetts Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) to create a Transformative Justice Practitioner Certificate program for students at UMass Dartmouth, Massasoit Community College and ‘UMass Law. The grant also funds the process of creating a Transformative Justice Center at UMass Dartmouth. This award follows an initial grant of $150,000 in the spring of 2021 that funded research and data collection to create the cross-campus Transformative Justice Practitioner program.

Principal investigators Dr. Viviane Saleh-Hanna, Dr. Tammi Arford, and Dr. Erin K. Krafft, all crime and justice studies faculty, are leading a multi-campus team to build the infrastructure needed to a new certificate program while laying the groundwork to build a Transformative Justice Center on the main campus of UMass Dartmouth.

“The data we gathered over the past year through campus justice climate surveys and intensive focus groups on all three campuses with students, faculty, staff and administrators showed a strong need and a strong desire for transformative justice programs and services,” said Drs. Saleh-Hanna, Arford and Krafft.

The Transformative Justice Practitioner Certificate Program, run by UMass Dartmouth’s Department of Crime and Justice Studies, will be instrumental in the health and growth of the region by providing students with training in stories and theories of transformative justice and instruction on applied transformative justice practices, including conflict mediation, trauma-informed facilitation skills, and visioning and building transformative justice responses to harm and individual and structural violence.

“Massasoit is constantly looking for opportunities for our students to apply everything they have learned. Doing so within a framework of transformative justice not only provides a unique and valuable learning opportunity, but potentially one that means a lot to our students and our community,” said Pamela Witcher, vice-rector for academic affairs at Massasoit.

The Center will serve as a research center for scholars and practitioners of transformative justice, coordinate with the certificate program, and be a resource for implementing transformative justice practices through collaborative models of harm response and community building. Creating a replicable model of the center and its program will enable certificate program graduates to create transformative justice centers and services within their respective campuses and communities.

“The Transformative Justice Practitioner Program provides a valuable opportunity for our law students to have a very real impact on the social well-being of their communities,” said Eric Mitnick, Dean of UMass Law. “UMass Law is delighted to participate in this vital initiative.”

Elna M. Lemons