Department of Conflict Resolution Studies Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Conflict Resolution Studies

First Advisor

Ismael Muvingi

Second Advisor

Robin Cooper

Third Advisor

Alexis Georgakopoulos


community engagement, conflict analysis, empathy, neighborhood accountability boards, reintegrative shaming, restorative justice


Restorative justice provides an innovative approach for addressing misdemeanor juvenile offenses. Diversion programs such as the Ribault Neighborhood Accountability Board utilizes community volunteers to guide juvenile offenders through the restorative justice process. There is however a lack of current research on the engagement of youth offenders and community volunteers that elucidates the relational dynamics between these two groups. This qualitative study uses Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis to address this research deficit by exploring the lived experiences of 12 youth offenders and their engagement with community volunteers, focusing on the following research questions: 1) how do youth offenders make meaning of their lived experience with the Ribault Neighborhood Accountability Board; 2) how do youth offenders describe their lived experience with the community volunteers; 3) how do the youth offenders perceive their relationship with the community after completion of the Ribault Neighborhood Accountability Board sanction process. Analysis of the descriptive, linguistic, and conceptual observation of the data derived from the participant interviews revealed that the engagement of these two groups promoted an existential and ontological transformation of youth offenders. Additionally, this study provided a unique perspective on the intangible element of human engagement and interaction as a foundational principle for bridging differing realities and fostering a common understanding between opposing parties that is mutually beneficial for the parties and society as a whole.