James is a graduate of The New School for Social Research, where he earned an M.A. in Politics. He also holds a B.A. in Politics from Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts. James concentrated his studies on Soviet/post-Soviet politics and human rights, culminating in thesis projects focused on LGBT rights in the post-Soviet states (undergraduate), and Crimea’s ethnic Tatar population (graduate). James is a former Albert List Academic Scholar and Eugene Lang Academic Fellow, honors that enabled him to pursue ethnographic fieldwork assignments in both Verona, Italy and Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is also an alumnus of the Transregional Center for Democratic Studies in Wrocław, Poland.
James is a former competitive Irish Dancer, rising to the rank of Open Champion and being named a North American National, British National and All-Ireland Championship Qualifier before retirement. He also served as the principal violinist of the Mannes Conservatory Orchestra for two concert seasons. In his spare time, he continues to dabble in the worlds of dance and music.