2nd EFEJ Winter Academy poster


Still undecided about joining the EFRJ's Winter Academy in Leuven?


Here are 9 compelling reasons why you should register for this unique opportunity happening from 5 - 9 February 2024!

Photo of one of the workshops from the 2023 Winter Academy.

1. Leuven: A Hub of Restorative Practice and Innovation

Situated in the heart of Leuven, the Winter Academy finds its home where the European Forum for Restorative Justice (EFRJ) was established. Beyond the EFRJ's presence, Leuven is a vibrant space where theoretical discussions meet practical applications, propelling the restorative justice movement forward. The city's historical narrative, marked by destruction and extensive rebuilding after the First World War, symbolises resilience and mirrors the transformative essence of restoration. Today, Leuven stands as an essential hub for restorative justice, driven by key elements:

  • Active restorative services: Leuven houses the headquarters of the Flemish victim-offender mediation service, showcasing a commitment to active restorative practices. Additionally, the town serves as a base for the service for minors, known as Alba.
  • Restorative City network: The city actively embraces restorative values through the Restorative City initiative. This bottom-up effort involves diverse organisations, including NGOs, private entities, and state-run institutions. It aims to transform local societal responses to conflicts, fostering a long-term vision and project.
  • Academic excellence: Within Leuven's academic landscape, the KU Leuven university's Leuven Institute of Criminology hosts the Restorative Justice Research Line. This research line actively shapes and advances the foundational aspects of academic research in the field.

Participating in the Winter Academy provides a unique opportunity to connect with locally engaged professionals, gaining insights and experiences from the rich restorative landscape of Leuven.


2. Global Perspectives, Local Insights

The Winter Academy promises to be a melting pot of diverse perspectives and high-quality applications in various contexts. It brings together participants from around the globe, offering a unique opportunity to gain global perspectives on restorative justice. Simultaneously, Leuven's local insights provide a grounded understanding of how restorative justice manifests in diverse contexts.

Groups of people sitting at a workshop, engaging in discussion

3. Practice-Oriented Courses and Rich Programme

Engage in three parallel practice-oriented courses led by experienced trainers. These courses are designed to develop and strengthen your skills, offering hands-on experiences of practice. Explore a rich programme from workshops and plenary activities. The carefully crafted itinerary ensures an immersive learning experience throughout the week.

4. Engagement Beyond the Workshops

Deepen your connections beyond the workshops by engaging with fellow participants during plenary sessions and at the singular social dinner organized by us. This provides a unique opportunity to expand your network, connect with inspiring individuals from various fields, and foster a supportive community that endures past the Winter Academy. Ellen Valkenborgs a mediator and participant of the 2023 Winter Academy described her experience the following way:
“It felt as if I was young again and had gone to camp, experiencing the sense of togetherness and energy that arose from exchanging ideas with people who shared the same beliefs from different perspectives.”

Presentation in a seminar room to a large group of people sitting in a circle

5. The impact of the 2023 Winter Academy

The first Winter Academy in 2023 brought together 45 participants from 14 different countries, including from the Americas and Asia. It was found a fulfilling experience and a very important learning opportunity by both the participants and the organisers. Elena Lindholm Belloso, who help with the organisation of the event and participated in the workshops, shared her thoughts on the 2023 Winter Academy:
“It was a valuable opportunity for people all around the world interested in learning more about restorative justice to come together and deepen their understanding of this approach.”
“The event allowed participants to create a safe space for learning and exchanging ideas, fostering a sense of community and collaboration among everyone.”

6. Expert-Led Learning and Collaborative Environment

The Winter Academy offers a unique learning experience with trainers who bring practical and theoretical expertise to each course. These professionals are leading practitioners in the field, ensuring a comprehensive exploration of course subjects as well as a good networking opportunity. Additionally, participants become part of a collaborative community where contributions are valued. The inclusive atmosphere promotes shared learning and mutual inspiration, creating a space where diverse voices are heard. 

7. Select from a broad variety of topics

The Winter Academy offers a personalised learning journey, where our diverse courses cater to professionals from various fields. Whether you work with criminal justice, provide essential care in social or health settings, or contribute to education, our thoughtfully curated workshops ensure relevance and applicability. From facilitating justice for young people to exploring trauma-informed practices and enhancing restorative training skills, each course is designed to equip you with practical, field-specific skills. Join us for an enriching experience tailored to your profession, making the Winter Academy a valuable investment in your professional growth.

A square in the city of Leuven

8. Tailored learning for all

At the Winter Academy, we're passionate about embracing diverse learning styles because it aligns with the very heart of restorative values. Just as restorative justice acknowledges and honours individual narratives, our approach to learning recognises that each participant has a unique style of understanding and absorbing information. From interactive discussions to hands-on experiences and reflective sessions, we offer a spectrum of opportunities so that everyone can engage in a way that resonates with them. In doing so, we foster an inclusive environment that mirrors the principles we believe in.

9. Discover the charms of Leuven

Known for its medieval architecture, vibrant atmosphere, and renowned universities, the city of Leuven offers a cultural layer to your overall Winter Academy experience. Take advantage of breaks to explore the cobblestone streets, visit local cafes, and soak in the rich cultural heritage of the city. With everything conveniently within walking distance, including great bars and attractive sites, Leuven provides an ideal backdrop for both academic and leisure pursuits. Moreover, it is easily accessible, with a mere 15-minute train ride from Brussels Airport Zaventem and a 30-minute train ride from Brussels Central.

Attending the EFRJ Winter Academy in Leuven is not just an educational investment but a chance to gain the knowledge, skills, and connections to make a meaningful impact in the field of restorative justice. Don't miss out on this enriching opportunity to shape your professional path and contribute to the broader restorative justice community!

Published on 8 December 2023.