New IIRP president installed
The International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP) inaugurated its second president at the Hotel Bethlehem in October. John W. Bailie III, Ph.D., succeeded Ted Wachtel, a co-founder of the institute, which is the only graduate school wholly devoted to restorative practices. The graduate school was founded in 2000, and its campus is located on Main Street in downtown Bethlehem.
According to IIRP literature, the field of restorative practices is a new social science that studies how to build social capital and achieve social discipline through participatory learning and decision-making. It uses interpersonal techniques, methods and systems in order to positively influence human behavior and improve society. Today, restorative practices is being applied in education, the criminal justice system, parenting, employment situations, and government and community settings.
In his address before the formal investiture, Bailie referred to the fundamental hypothesis of restorative practices, which is “that human beings are happiest, healthiest, more productive and more likely to make positive changes in their behavior when people in positions of authority do things with them, rather than to them, or for them.”
He explained that the mission of the IIRP Graduate School, which is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, “is to advance practice, scholarship and research in restorative practices.” He praised the IIRP faculty as being “dedicated to helping individuals find ways to empower others and transform communities.”
The student body, Bailie added, is diverse and growing quickly. “Our graduate students hail from many diverse regions around the world, and they’re collaborating to create a stronger, more participatory society. Our campus is — in a very real way — the world.”
Enrollment has grown from 111 students in academic year 2012-13 to 194 in 2014-15, with 24 percent from outside the United States. “Our students represent teachers, social workers, lawyers, faith leaders, professors and elected officials. Therefore, our impact is far beyond those we teach: It is positively impacting communities across the globe.”
Involved with IIRP for the past 15 years, Bailie has worked at every level of the organization. As director of continuing education he helped raise national awareness of restorative practices. He also led the rapid expansion of professional development throughout Canada, Europe, Australia and Asia.
Also an associate professor at the graduate school, Bailie earned his doctorate in education in 2012 from Lesley University, Cambridge, Mass.; and a master’s degree from the IIRP in 2008. He did graduate work at the Moravian Theological Seminary in Bethlehem. He began his professional career as an officer in the U.S. Navy., where he received a commendation for his work with inner-city Boston youth.
Now, as IIRP’s new president, Bailie gave his audience a look into the future. “Over the next few years, we will be greatly expanding of our graduate programs, professional development opportunities, civil-society projects and research, in the U.S. and especially through our international affiliates.”
He cautioned, however, “Good ideas alone, even the right ideas at the right time, are not enough. To truly have an impact in the world, we need a theory of change that works, and we need to prove that our ideas can be brought to scale.
“For us,” he continued, “that has meant attempting to influence civil society through three primary vehicles: demonstration programs, professional development and training, and graduate education — as well as books and other media related to restorative practices.
“The IIRP recognizes that we cannot do everything, but those things we can do, we must do well. And we are.”