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Professors contribute to Southeast/Southwest People of Color Conference

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Several Miami Law Professors participated at this year's Southeast/Southwest People of Color Conference held in Fort Lauderdale, FL. The conference focused on faculty development issues and provided an opportunity for legal scholars and community leaders to discuss legal, cultural, and social issues that affect communities of color. Participating Miami Law faculty included Professors Francisco Valdes, Charlton Copeland, D. Marvin Jones, Osamudia James, Jan Jacobowitz and Scott Rogers.

Professor D. Marvin Jones participated as a mentor/commentator for the Professor Geneva Brown panel. Professor Jones provided commentary on the issue of massive incarceration and commented on the fact that there is a strong historical analogy to be made between massive incarceration and the black codes. The linchpin that ties these two eras together is the concept of the civil rights era, which directly proceeds the era of massive incarceration constituted a kind of second reconstruction. Massive incarceration in a sense is a backlash to the civil rights gains of minorities as the black codes were a backlash to the abolition of slavery.

Professor Scott Rogers participated on a panel titled: "Meditative/Contemplative Lawyering." Together they instructed attendees about how to incorporate Mindfulness into a law school curriculum and legal practice. During the conference, Rogers instructed a room of professionals to close their eyes and focus on breathing to provide them an opportunity to understand the positive effects of mindfulness.

Professor Jan Jacobowitz, who participated on the same panel, explained how Miami Law has successfully incorporated Mindfulness into curriculum. She discussed "Professional responsibility and mindfulness ethics for lawyers in a digital age," a course she teaches with Rogers. The teachings integrates the neuroscience of decision making and the application of mindfulness into the ethical, emotional and physical aspects of making a decision while under pressure and stress.

Jacobowitz and Rogers are also in the process of publishing a book about their studies on Mindfulness and lawyering.

During the conference, Associate Professor Osamudia James discussed her most recent work, in which she explores the predatory-like business model of for-profit, higher education institutions throughout the country.

"There's been a shift in the way we talk about education," says Professor James. "It's gone from a fundamental right to education, to efficiency, productivity, and profit."

The problem? The profit motive creates an incentive to exploit students. And, to further complicate the matter, she has found it very difficult to gauge the effectiveness of education, although there are indications that for-profits deliver an inferior product when compared to non-profit institutions. Despite differences in quality, minority and working class students are aggressively recruited by for-profit institutions, particularly because of the federal student aid funds to which the students have access. In 2010, the University of Phoenix, for example, became the first college in the history of the United States to take in more than $1 billion worth of Pell Grant disbursements in a single year.

Associate Professor Chartlon Copeland participated as a commentator on a panel entitled, "Re-Defining Diversity, Meritocracy and Racial Accountability in Equal Educational Opportunity." Professor Copeland's research interests are administrative law, federal courts and federalism, comparative constitutional law, and race and the law.