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Sara Ellen Kitchen, J.D.

Sara Ellen Kitchen, J.D.

Professor Emerita of Criminal Justice

Professor Kitchen retired in 2019 after 34 years of distinguished teaching and service at the College. As chair of the Department of Sociology for 17 years, she developed the criminal justice major and facilitated the development of the human service undergraduate and Masters Program. Her experiences as a Watson Fellow included studying juvenile justice and child welfare in Denmark, Sweden, England, the Netherlands, and all former Yugoslavia nations; and as the first woman public defender in Bucks County, informed her teaching in the areas of law, children’s rights, and social justice. The Convention on the Rights of the Child, the international treaty on human rights for children, was the framework for her courses related to children and her topic for several international speaking presentations and publications. Restorative justice became a personal and professional interest in the latter half of her career, and Professor Kitchen taught the very first course in restorative justice at the college. As a result of student demand and interest, it ultimately became a requirement for criminal justice majors and then an interdisciplinary minor. She served on the initial planning committee for the Restorative Justice Network for Catholic Campuses, organized and hosted several conferences on campus on restorative justice, presented at other conferences, and published on teaching restorative justice. Awarded the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching in 2008, Professor Kitchen maintains an interest in student academics at Chestnut Hill College and continues reading and research in restorative justice and children’s rights.

Educational Background: 
  • B.A., Trinity College, Washington, DC
  • J.D., Villanova Law School
  • Admitted to Pennsylvania Bar
  • Training in Mediation, Contemplative Practices in Higher Education and Restorative Justice
Courses Taught: 
  • Introduction to Criminal Justice
  • World Justice and Care for Children
  • Gender and the Law
  • Juvenile Justice
  • Criminal Law
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Juvenile Delinquency
  • Senior Seminar
  • Restorative Justice Seminar
  • Interdisciplinary Scholars Program
  •  Art and Justice: Considering Childhood Past to Present
Scholarly Interests: 
  • Children's rights
  • Juvenile justice
  • Restorative Justice

Past President of Justice Studies Association (2012-2014)

Kitchen, S. (2013) Restoring the professor and the students: A circle process and contemplative practices in a restorative justice seminar. Contemporary Justice Review 16:1, 28-42.

Chair. (2011) 13th Annual Conference of the Justice Studies Association. Unlocking the Prison of Our Lives. Chestnut Hill College, June 9-11.

Paper Presentation. (2010). “Restoring the Student and the Professor: Modeling Restorative Justice.” Reducing Social Harms: Seeking ‘Just’ Living in Our Communities and Ourselves. 12th Annual Justice Studies Association Conference. University of Tennessee, Knoxville. June 2-5.

Paper Presentation. (2009) “The Politics of Breastfeeding: Rights, Resistance and Change.” 79th Annual Meeting of the Eastern Sociological Society. Changing Lives, Resistant Institutions. Baltimore, MD, March 19-22.

Paper Presentation. (2009) “Children on the Move: A focus on the Violation of Human Rights for the Unaccompanied, the Left-Behind, the Separated, the Undocumented, the Trafficked and the Refuge child in this Village of a World,” 11th Annual Conference of the Justice Studies Association, Immigration, Sanctuary, Worlds Without Borders, Albany, NY, May 27-30.

Kitchen, S. (2009) Growing up in prison- Sentenced to a life without childhood. Civilisations No. 9 – Adult in miniature: Life without childhood. Presses de l’Universitie des sciences socials de Toulouse.

Paper Presentation. (2008) “Ethnocentrism and Human Rights: Focus on the Convention on the Rights of the Child.” 78th Annual Meeting of the Eastern Sociological Society. Beyond Ourselves: Sociology in a Global Mode. New York CityFebruary 23.

Kitchen, S. (2007) Child at the breast: Reality, reaction and rights – a 21st century legal perspective. GRAAT no 36, Stories for Children, Histories of Childhood, Tome 1- Civilisation, 345-360.

Paper Presentation. (2005) “Child Labor: Defining the Evolving Realities of Desperation and Dignity.” Childhoods 2005 Oslo, Children and Youth in Emerging and Transforming Societies. Oslo, Norway, June 27-July 3.

Kitchen, S. (2002) Children’s rights in the curriculum in Children as Equals: Exploring the Rights of the Child. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

Paper Presentation. (2001) “Teaching the Convention on the Rights of the Child for the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the world’s Children 2001-2010.” Children and Young People in a Changing world: A Holistic Approach. International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences, Agrigento, Italy, June 9-16.

Invited Participant. (1998) National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Summer Seminar.

“Issues in the Philosophy of Childhood.” University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA, June 22-July 22.

Plenary Speaker. (1997“Children’s Rights in the Curriculum.” Children in the World Conference. An international, multidisciplinary conference for the sesquicentennial anniversary of Saint Xavier University, Chicago, Illinois, March 20-23.

Invited Participant. (1996) U.S. Institute of Peace. “Conflict and Peacemaking in an Evolving World.” Seminar for University and College Faculty. July 13-19.

Invited Participant. (1993) Fulbright-Hays Study Tour to Costa Rica and Nicaragua on socio-economic development.

  • Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching
  • Centennial Alumnae Award for Academic Excellence, Trinity College, DC
  • Sears Roebuck Award for Teaching Excellence and Campus Leadership
  • Thomas J. Watson Fellow – studied juvenile justice and child welfare in Europe including the former Yugoslavia