Dr. Howard Zehr Named Ireland Distinguished Visiting Scholar

Howard Zehr, Ph.D., a renowned figure in human rights scholarship, has been named the winner of the 2015 Ireland Distinguished Visiting Scholar Award.
Howard Zehr, Ph.D., a renowned figure in human rights scholarship, has been named the winner of the 2015 Ireland Distinguished Visiting Scholar Award. Zehr is Distinguished Professor of Restorative Justice at Eastern Mennonite University, where he also directs the Zehr Institute of Restorative Justice at the Center for Justice & Peacebuilding.

Howard Zehr“I am delighted that Dr. Zehr has accepted this year’s Ireland Distinguished Visiting Scholar Award,” said Robert E. Palazzo, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “His work in restorative justice is seminal. Over the course of his career he has had an international impact, changing our perception of crime and violations. His work has shifted thinking from the older perception of crime as an act against the state to a more humanistic understanding of crime as a violation of the rights of individuals. His presence on campus will stimulate considerable discussion on the meaning of human rights and the importance of the civil rights movement in expanding our understanding of the concept of justice.”

Born and raised in the Midwest, Zehr studied at two Mennonite colleges before receiving a degree in European history in 1966 from the all-male, historically black Morehouse College in Atlanta, making him the first white person to graduate from the institution. He completed his Master of Arts degree in European history from the University of Chicago in 1967 and his doctorate in modern European history from Rutgers University in 1974. During and after his doctoral studies, he taught at the historic Talladega College in Alabama until he left in 1978 to begin practical work in the field of justice and victims’ rights. Since then, he has trained individuals working in the areas of restorative justice, judicial reform and victim-offender reconciliation in more than 25 countries and 35 states.

Zehr explains that restorative justice “is a relational view of wrongdoing and justice that focuses on addressing the harms, helping people to take responsibility for the harm they have caused, and seeks to engage those parties who have been impacted or have a stake in this.”

He made a major contribution to the field with the publication of “Changing Lenses: A New Focus for Crime and Justice,” widely seen as one of the first publications to articulate a theory of restorative justice. In it, Zehr explains that, in a justice framework based on punishment, crime is an offense against the state, whereas in a justice framework based on restitution and input from both victims and offenders, crime is viewed as a violation of people and relationships.

“In the book, I describe restorative justice as ‘an indistinct destination on a necessarily long and circuitous journey,’” Zehr said. “Now, several decades later, I can confidently say that, although it is still a journey with many curves, many detours and wrong turns, the road and its destination are not as indistinct as they once were. I believe that if we embark on this journey with respect and humility, and with an attitude of wonder, restorative justice can lead us toward the kind of world we want our children and grandchildren to inhabit.”

Howard Zehr IrelandHis Ireland lecture is entitled “After Selma: The Challenge of Human Rights and Justice.” Zehr explained that “the Selma march and the Voting Rights Act were huge milestones for human rights and justice, but they did not put issues of rights and justice to rest. [I want to] explore some of the challenges in defining and enforcing human rights in the 21st century, as well as ways that criminal justice has contributed
to injustice.”

Zehr says that the lessons of Selma are still very relevant today, regardless of where human rights issues are occurring. “I teach in an international graduate program that brings together practitioners from all over the world to study and live together,” he said. “Many of them come from the front lines of human rights work—contexts where basic human rights are still in contention. They have often found that restorative justice re-orients how they approach human rights issues. They, in turn, have helped me to understand the importance of explicitly addressing human rights issues within restorative approaches.”

In addition to his influential work in restorative justice, Zehr also is an acclaimed photojournalist, a career that began as he documented the stories of the individuals with whom he worked. His photography publications include “A Dry Roof and a Cow—Dreams and Portraits of Our Neighbors,” “Doing Life: Reflections of Men and Women Serving Life Without Parole,” “Transcending—Reflections of Crime Victims, The Little Book of Contemplative Photography,” and “What Will Happen to Me?” about the children of prisoners. In 2013, he published “Pickups: A Love Story,” a collection of photos of pickup trucks and their owners.

Eastern Mennonite Campus

  • Letter from the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences
    Our fall semester is in full swing and the momentum is building in the College and across the university.
    posted a while back 744 views
  • Finishing Strong

    We finished the academic year with a major exhibition at the Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts and celebrated another joyful, thrilling commencement ceremony, at which more than 2,000 UAB students graduated.

    posted a while back 711 views
  • College Alumni Community

    Our former graduates have had a great year of events and celebrations, all organized by our Alumni Board led by president Wes Calhoun. 

    posted a while back 795 views
  • Faculty Receive University Awards

    Renato Camata, Roger Gilchrist, Samiksha Raut, and Nitesh Saxena were all recognized this year for their excellence in teaching, mentorship and advising.

    posted a while back 1123 views
  • New Chairs, New Faculty Join the College

    This fall, we welcomed several new faculty members, a new chair for the Department of Sociology, and three interim chairs. We are proud to have all of them in leadership and academic positions and are excited to see what they accomplish at UAB.

    posted a while back 1275 views
  • Nine Departments Welcome New Faculty Members

    This fall, new faculty members join the Department of Communication Studies, the Department of Computer Science, the Department of Criminal Justice, the Department of English, the Department of Music, the Department of Philosophy, the Department of Social Work, the Department of Sociology, and the Department of Theatre.

    posted a while back 1258 views
  • New Degrees, New Department Names

    At recent Board of Trustees meetings, two new degrees and two new department names were approved.

    posted a while back 937 views
  • New Building Groundbreaking

    Dean Palazzo, along with President Ray Watts and Provost Pam Benoit, joined several invited guests to celebrate the groundbreaking for our new arts and sciences academic building on Tuesday, September 19, 2017.

    posted a while back 1096 views
  • Remarkable Generosity

    Donors establish five new endowments in the College—the most ever received in one year.

    posted a while back 873 views
  • Personal History

    Love and learning are the two recurring themes of Sol and Rita Kimerling’s incredible story.

    posted a while back 1391 views
  • Strike Up the Band!

    Under the leadership of new director of bands Dr. Sean Murray, the marching blazers are ready to retake the field this fall.

    posted a while back 1474 views
  • Risk Takers

    From changing majors to changing sports, these former football players, cheerleaders, majorettes, and Blazerettes stepped outside their comfort zones and transformed their student experiences–and future careers.

    posted a while back 3724 views
  • Just This Once, A little Health Advice

    Am I the only one who feels bombarded by unwanted health advice? You can’t open a newspaper (remember those?), a magazine, the internet, or turn on the television without stumbling across someone dispensing tips for living a longer, healthier life.

    posted a while back 1024 views
  • Message from the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences
    Right now is such an exciting time on campus, and not just because the flowers are blooming and the birds are singing. With the approval of our new Arts & Sciences building, scheduled to be open in Fall 2019, we are embarking on an exciting journey to construct a stunning space for our faculty and students.
    posted a while back 3408 views
  • A Vibrant Fall Semester
    There was an explosion of creativity and celebration last fall with AEIVA and the Institute of Human Rights kickoff event at the Alys Stephens Center.
    posted a while back 3336 views
  • Senior Wins Gilman Scholarship
    Jane Murphy, a student in foreign languages with a concentration in French, has been awarded the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to study abroad.
    posted a while back 3704 views
  • Dean's Award Winners
    Congratulations to these deserving undergraduate and graduate students, who were nominated by their professors for this prestigious recognition.
    posted a while back 3008 views
  • Neuroscience Major a Finalist for Gates Cambridge Scholarship
    Hriday Bhambhvani, a double major in mathematics and neuroscience, was named a finalist for the Gates Cambridge Scholarship
    posted a while back 4327 views
  • Lamario Williams Wins Scholarship and Travel Award
    Physics major Lamario Williams received a PhysCon MSI/HBCU Travel Award to attend PhysCon 2016 in San Francisco.
    posted a while back 3140 views
  • Students, Faculty and Alumni Win Big at 2017 ADDY Awards
    Students, faculty, and alumni from the College of Arts and Sciences make a strong showing at the ADDY Awards.
    posted a while back 3831 views
  • New Degrees in Computer Science, Digital Forensics, Immunology and Genetics and Genomics Sciences
    The College of Arts and Sciences is proud to offer new degrees in Computer Science, Digital Forensics, Immunology, and Genetics and Genomics Sciences.
    posted a while back 4711 views
  • Public Relations Certificate First in State
    Majors in public relations and other communication studies will now have the opportunity to boost their resumes with the addition of the Certificate in Principles of Public Relations.
    posted a while back 3624 views
  • Dr. David Schwebel Receives Multiple Honors
    Dr. David Schwebel, professor in the Department of Psychology and associate dean for research in the sciences, receives multiple honors.
    posted a while back 3433 views
  • Dr. Christopher Lawson Named Chair of National Research Nonprofit
    Dr. Christopher Lawson, professor in the Department of Physics, has been elected board chair of a national nonprofit coalition.
    posted a while back 3341 views
  • Dr. Sarah Parcak Launches TED Wish, Receives Additional Recognition
    Dr. Sarah Parcak, associate professor in the Department of Anthropology, launches GlobalXplorer, a project funded by her $1 million 2016 TED Prize.
    posted a while back 3627 views
  • Dr. Shahid Muhktar Receives Large NSF Grant
    Dr. Shahid Mukhtar, assistant professor in the Department of Biology, has been selected to receive a three-year $800,000 grant for his research from the National Science Foundation.
    posted a while back 3471 views
  • Two Biology Faculty Members Elected as Fellows in American Association of Advancement of Science
    Department of Biology faculty members Dr. Charles Amsler, professor, and Dr. Steven Austad, distinguished professor and department chair, have been elected fellows of the American Association of the Advancement of Science.
    posted a while back 3403 views
  • Psychology Professors Part of New Alabama Regional Autism Network
    Dr. Fred Biasini and Dr. Sarah O’Kelley, professors in the Department of Psychology, are part of a new Alabama regional autism network.
    posted a while back 3799 views
  • Dr. Melissa Harris Receives Award from PanAmerican Society
    Dr. Melissa Harris, an assistant professor in the Department of Biology, has received the 2016 PanAmerican Society for Pigment Cell Research (PASPCR) Medrano Award.
    posted a while back 3355 views
  • Dr. Margaret Johnson Awarded NIH Funding
    The Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), part of the National Institutes of Health, has awarded a five-year MIRA R35 grant to Dr. Margaret Johnson, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry.
    posted a while back 3646 views
  • NSF Grant Funds New CyberCorps Scholarship Program
    After years of collaboration between the Departments of Criminal Justice and Computer Science, The National Science Foundation has awarded a $2.1 million Scholarship for Service grant to address cybersecurity challenges.
    posted a while back 3404 views
  • One for the Books
    Congratulations to our 20 faculty members who published 21 books in 2016.
    posted a while back 3536 views
  • 2017 Ireland Prize for Scholarly Distinction Dr. Heith Copes, Department of Criminal Justice
    Dr. Heith Copes, professor in the Department of Criminal Justice, has been named the 2017 winner of the Ireland Prize for Scholarly Distinction.
    posted a while back 3761 views
  • 2016 Alumni Awards
    Our 2016 Alumni Award winners represent another outstanding class of graduates who have made—and continue to make—a tremendous impact in their respective fields and in the larger community. This year’s winners graduated with degrees in Computer and Information Sciences, Political Science, History, Physics, and Public Administration, reflecting the breadth of scholarship and study in the College.
    posted a while back 2929 views
  • Class Notes
    We want you to share your accomplishments! Update your alumni information.
    posted a while back 2958 views
  • The Power of Two
    Couples Jim Sokol and Lydia Cheney, Lee and Brenda Baumann, and Jane and Jim Ed Mulkin discuss their strong ties to UAB.
    posted a while back 6502 views
  • Write On
    Tucked into Sterne Library is one of UAB’s best kept—and most powerful—secrets: the University Writing Center.
    posted a while back 3525 views
  • Body and Mind
    College of Arts and Sciences researchers investigate what actually happens when we age—from our cells to our cognition—in the hopes of prolonging high-quality life.
    posted a while back 9229 views
Back to Top