Professors Who Blog #2: Director of Global Justice Program Jim Gash
November 22, 2016 | By Alexa Brown — Continuing on with our series of exploring the blogging world as it relates to Pepperdine Law professors, I sat down to talk with author of Divine Collision and Director of the Global Justice Program, Professor Jim Gash. His blog throwingstarfish.com deals with a specific niche of working in the justice system in Uganda. (UPDATE: Throwing Starfish has recently been rebranded as Divine Collision. Find the blog section here). Read on to learn more:
When did you begin blogging?
I believe it was in late 2011, in advance of my family and I moving to Uganda for six months. We created the sight as an opportunity to give updates to friends and family while we were there.
What topics does your blog cover?
I blog almost exclusively about global justice issues, mostly in Uganda. It's fairly narrow in terms of scope, although I will occasionally write about other things happening at the law school or that are related to Global Justice.
Your blog is called "throwing starfish." Can you explain a little bit about the meaning behind the name?
It comes from a story (read here) one of my colleagues David Barret told me on our first trip to Uganda in January of 2010. It relates to how making a difference for one person is important. The idea would be that starfish are stranded on the shore, and by picking up one and throwing it back into the ocean, you are making a difference for that one starfish, regardless if you can or cannot make a difference for all of them.
How has blogging affected your career?
I would say that it is making me more disciplined about keeping a record of what we have done and what is happening while we are there in Uganda. It's an opportunity to put down on paper things that are happening in real time.
My initial writing down of what happened formed the basis for the Divine Collision book. If I hadn't been blogging I wouldn't have recalled all of the things that gave rise to it.
Your family periodically writes posts on your blog as well. How has having a collective outlet for your family to share their thoughts and experiences, specifically in Uganda, affected your family?
I would say it's made all of us think more deeply of what we are experiencing while we are experiencing it. The blog posts reflect the depth and breadth of the impact it is having on us, while it is happening, and makes us more reflective.
Would you suggest blogging to others, such as your students or fellow Professors?
Yes--but it would be a qualified yes. It can be quite time consuming, and there is always a risk of becoming self absorbed the more one writes about oneself. With those caveats in mind, I do think it is a helpful outlet for processing. It also provides an important opportunity to educate those interested in the same topics you are interested in, and about opportunities to be more engaged.
Have you had any difficulties with keeping up a blog?
There are certainly periods of professional life that are more packed, and when there isn't breathing space there isn't blogging space. It's something that is a discipline, and it has to be a regular practice for it to continue. The more time that elapses between posts, the longer it will be since you post next. It's a muscle that needs to be exercised, and I certainly admired those who are very disciplined about it, like Al Sturgeon.
What advice would you offer others who have considered blogging?
Find something you are passionate about and that there isn't already commentary on in the public eye, and try to develop a niche.