2011 Texas Tech Integrated Scholar
Judge Robert Bean Professor of Law;
School of Law
- Vaughn James
What is your research objective/interest(s)?
Three things: (1) legal aspects of dementia and related diseases, especially Alzheimer's disease; (2) economic and social issues of the so-called Third World; and (3) religious freedom.
How do you feel your research impacts the globe?
First, Alzheimer's disease is the next big epidemic – or should I say, pandemic. My research and writing aims to inform people around the globe of the legal aspects of this disease and other forms of dementia, and how they can prepare for it.
Second, as a native of the Caribbean, I am concerned about the impact of certain economic decisions by the G7 and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that affect Third World countries. I was very pleased when I discovered that someone had translated my article, "Twenty-first Century Pirates of the Caribbean," into French, and that this French version is now part of the Economic Papers Collection at the United Nations Library in Geneva, Switzerland. I was also very pleased when, in 2008, the administration at Dominica State College in Dominica, West Indies, invited me to teach an annual one-week course titled "International Taxation in the Caribbean Context" at that institution. The course is attended by lawyers, bankers, jurists, government officials, and business owners from around the Caribbean. It is the first, and thus far only, course I have taught that is followed closely by the media – television cameras are allowed into the classroom; print journalists show up with their cameras; and radio personalities show up with their microphones. One night, I made a comment about the blacklisting of certain Third World countries by the United States and the OECD; the following morning my comment was the lead story on one radio station's morning newscast!
Third, I am a member of the Board of Experts of the International Religious Liberty Association, an organization that promotes and agitates for global religious freedom. In my role as a member of the Board of Experts, I have written papers on various religious freedom topics, and have made presentations in various countries including South Africa, Spain, France, and Romania. In August of this year, I shall be making a presentation on secularism and religion in Sydney, Australia. The text of my presentation will be published in "Fides at Libertas," a publication of the International Religious Liberty Association. I am especially happy to go to Australia, because when I made the presentation "From Intolerance to Love and Peace" in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2007, an Australian blogger posted a very favorable comment about the presentation!
Where do you get your inspiration?
My inspiration comes from the world around me and my belief that a better way of life must exist for mankind – better, that is, than the disharmony, disunity, and misery we see around us every day.
What type(s) of service projects do you enjoy doing?
I enjoy taking cases on a pro bono basis. Whether it is directing students in the Wills Clinic I used to run here at Texas Tech, or at the Tax Clinic, of which I am currently the director, or taking cases for Legal Aid of Northwest Texas, or taking pro bono cases on my own, I love to see the "poor" getting their "day in court." I amass a number of pro bono hours each year, and as a result I have been a member of the Pro Bono College of the State Bar of Texas for the past four years. Because I am also licensed to practice law in New York, I take a number of pro bono cases there also.
What are you currently working on?
Apart from the sixty cases in my files, a few other things including (1) a book titled Current Conflicts in Law and Religion – Cases and Materials (Vandeplas Publishing), (2) another book titled Caring for Your Loved One With Alzheimer's Without Going Bankrupt (Amacom Books), (3) my doctoral dissertation for a Ph.D. in Educational Administration, (4) material for this year's International Taxation in the Caribbean Context course at Dominica State College (August 7-11), and (5) three papers for presentation this summer – one at the University of Tennessee College of Law (June 30), one at the SEALS Conference in South Carolina (July 28), and one at the IRLA Conference at Sydney Law School in Sydney, Australia (August 24).
What advice do you have for new faculty members on balancing the components of an integrated scholar into their careers (academics, research, and service)?
In a nutshell, pay attention to all three components. Spend about one-third of your time on each component. But to do it well, you have to make the sacrifices – You have to work long hours. And one more thing: you have to be flexible.
I was born in a tiny fishing village called Colihaut, in what is today the Commonwealth of Dominica (I still call it La Belle Ile de la Dominique). I see myself, first, as a minister of religion, and thus see my greatest educational accomplishment as my having graduated from Divinity School. The rest of it is unimportant and does not matter.