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Bethel adds criminal and restorative justice option to curriculum

April 16th, 2018

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College faculty and board have approved a new certificate program, called “Criminal and Restorative Justice” with the emphasis on the latter.

The certificate will be housed within the Department of Social Work and is designed to “accompany and enrich” that and other majors, says Ada Schmidt-Tieszen, professor of social work.

History and conflict studies, psychology and education are also among the majors that student looking toward a career within the broadly defined area of “criminal justice” might be most likely to choose.

Or as the course description says, the certificate is meant to “[prepare] students for careers in the criminal or restorative justice fields, including but not limited to prisons, police departments, investigative agencies, educational institutions, rehabilitative facilities, mediation facilities or conflict organizations, or related areas of social work, psychology, etc.”

The certificate will have “a Bethel flavor,” says Schmidt-Tieszen, meaning there will be a strong practical component (required internship) as well as teaching of “alternative viewpoints about the criminal justice system, with a focus on re-establishing relationships between offenders and their victims and the community.”

Again from the course description, students who complete the certificate will “understand the restorative approach to justice, including its theoretical, cultural and spiritual roots as well as its applicability to contexts inside and outside the criminal justice system, [and] possess practical skills for applying restorative techniques in specific situations.”

Most of the courses required will be drawn from already-existing majors, but there will be three new ones: Introduction to Criminal Justice, Approaches to Restorative Justice and a capstone seminar course that will be required along with the internship. A student will choose according to interest from options within Bible and religion, history and conflict studies, psychology or social work.

Students will also be required to take a skills-based course such as conflict mediation, prison theater or restorative justice in schools.

The certificate “will offer an option to address frequently-mentioned prospective student interests in criminal justice, detective or police work, or other law-related fields,” says the course description. “

The certificate will be infused with a perspective of restorative justice, an excellent fit with Bethel’s central values of social justice, peace and service to the larger community. The coursework can be transformative for the individual students enrolled, but can also play a larger role in transforming the criminal justice and educational systems in our communities, states and nation.”

The certificate program will be offered beginning with the 2018-19 course catalog.

Bethel College ranks at No. 1 in College Consensus’ ranking of Kansas colleges and universities, and is the only Kansas private college listed in the analysis of top colleges and universities, the Washington Monthly National Universities-Liberal Arts section and the National Liberal Arts College category of U.S. News & World Report, all for 2017-18. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

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About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.