Earlier this year Dr. Lawrence A. Joseph, constitutional law expert and now President of Grenada’s Senate, joined the School of Advanced Study as ST Lee Visiting Fellow. In this guest post Dr. Joseph tells us more about himself and his time with us.
Could you tell us a little about yourself?
I am a barrister at law having been called to the bar of England and Wales by way of Lincoln’s Inn, Inns of Court School of Law in 1977.
I returned to my homeland Grenada in 1978 engaged in private practice and was appointed a magistrate for the years 1979 to 1984. I was elected as President of the Grenada Senate for the years 1984 to 1988 and subsequently held several ministerial port folios including that of Attorney General and Minister for Legal Affairs. I was Speaker of the House of Representatives for the years 2003 to 2008 and again was elected President of the Senate for the second time in 2013. I am still President of the Senate.
In 2006 as an external student, I obtained a Master of Laws (LLM) Degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice from the University of London. In 2009 I successfully completed a course in Legislative Drafting from the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London and in 2012 I successfully defended my thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Degree in Law from the said Institute of Advanced Legal Studies.
You were the S. T. Lee Visiting Fellow between the 4th of March and 7th April 2014, why did you decide to take up this fellowship and what did you hope to get from it?
When I was offered the S.T. Lee Visiting Professorial Fellowship, I readily accepted the offer. I saw the offer as an opportunity to obtain exposure to fellow colleagues in academia, and felt confident that the experience would enable me to gain further knowledge in my area of interest, which is constitutional law. These objectives were realized when I engaged in delivering lectures at universities in London, Belfast, Cardiff and Nottingham.
As President of Grenada’s Senate you must be a very busy man. How have you managed to balance that role with the fellowship?
The role of being President of the Senate is a very engaging one. The President is not only responsible for presiding over all meetings of the Senate which could be once or twice monthly, but also has the responsibility of ensuring that all documentations are in order before they are placed on the Order Paper for those meetings. With the assistance of modern day technology, the internet, I was able to keep abreast with the parliamentary office on a regular basis.
Everything went quite smoothly whilst I was in the United Kingdom and I was able to undertake all my assignments. However I had to cut my stay in London short by a week as a result of an urgent meeting of the Senate which was called by the Leader of Government Business. I was informed that “delicate matters” had to be addressed and that my attendance would be much appreciated.
As a qualified barrister with expertise in various interdisciplinary fields you must have a specific viewpoint of the role that humanities studies play within wider contexts. Could you share with us some thoughts on this?
Humanities studies offer an opportunity to enable one to connect theory with practice. For example, in undertaking the necessary research for the S.T. Lee Visiting Professorial Fellowship, I was able to have a better appreciation for the theories as expressed by Professors H.L.A. Hart, Hans Kelsen, Ronald Dworkin and others in connection with whether or not one has an obligation to obey the state, how extra-constitutional issues may be resolved and how and when coups d’etat or revolutions may gain legitimacy. All these were studied in the context of recent uprisings and coups d’etat and revolutions which occurred in the Middle East. Ukraine, Thailand and other countries. The theme for the UK lectures which I undertook was “Coups d’Etat, Revolutions and the Question of Legitimacy”
Have you got any other comments about your time with us?
Altogether my time in the UK whilst undertaking the Fellowship was well spent. I am a better person now because of the Fellowship. I now find the time to pursue further research.