Kirk "Jae" James

Clinical Assistant Professor of Social Work

Areas of Expertise

Mass Incarceration and the intersection of race, class, power, privilege, immigration and critical pedagogy; Trauma and healing modalities for impacted people; Human rights and social justice frameworks



Kirk "Jae" James is a Clinical Assistant Professor at the NYU Silver School of Social Work. He completed his doctorate from the School of Social Policy and Practice at The University of Pennsylvania in May 2013. His dissertation, “The Invisible Epidemic in Social Work Academia,” examined the complex phenomena of mass incarceration through a historical and contemporary lens. He concluded by developing curricula for Master level students to increase awareness, activism and holistic practice in the milieu. Courses developed from his dissertation have been implemented at Columbia University, Temple University, City College, and the University of Pennsylvania amongst others.

Dr. James’s primary research and publications focus on deconstructing issues of mass incarceration –– specifically as it pertains to trauma, cognitive development, culpability, and the examination of systems that foster and perpetuate racial injustice. Dr. James co-created NYU Silver's Re-imagine Justice conference on mass incarceration, reentry and trauma and their intersections and implications for social work practice. He also launched the Silver School’s Evolving Justice initiative, which aims to build community; co-create brave space; and facilitate dialogue towards the emancipatory exploration of justice in theory and action. In addition, he works collaboratively with the Center For Justice at Columbia University on its annual “Beyond The Bars” conference –– which brings impacted people together with academics, activists, policy makers, and practitioners from across the country to create a more informed understanding, and subsequent response to mass incarceration.facilitate various dialogue(s) towards the emancipatory exploration of justice in theory and action.

Dr. James has over a decade of leadership experience in various social justice settings, and is a highly sought out speaker and human rights advocate. He has been a consultant on social justice projects from the Caribbean to Africa. At the University of Pennsylvania, he developed and directed the Goldring Reentry Initiative (GRI). The primary goals of the GRI are to identify best practices in reducing recidivism for individuals transitioning from Philadelphia jails, and to train clinical and macro level social work students to work with incarcerated individuals (pre and post release).