Restoration ecology is a deepening and diversifying field with current research incorporating multiple disciplines and infusing long-standing ideas with fresh perspectives. We present a list of 10 recent pivotal papers exemplifying new directions in ecological restoration that were selected by students in a cross-disciplinary graduate seminar at the University of California, Berkeley. We highlight research that applies ecological theory to improve restoration practice in the context of global change (e.g. climate modeling, evaluation of novel ecosystems) and discuss remaining knowledge gaps. We also discuss papers that recognize the social context of restoration and the coupled nature of social and ecological systems, ranging from the incorporation of cultural values and Traditional Ecological Knowledge into restoration, to the consideration of the broader impacts of markets on restoration practices. In addition, we include perspectives that focus on improving communication between social and natural scientists as well as between scientists and practitioners, developing effective ecological monitoring, and applying more integrated, whole-landscape approaches to restoration. We conclude with insights on recurrent themes in the papers regarding planning restoration in human-modified landscapes, application of ecological theory, improvements to restoration practice, and the social contexts of restoration. We share lessons from our cross-disciplinary endeavor, and invite further discussion on the future directions of restoration ecology through contributions to our seminar blog site http://restecology.blogspot.com.