Heike Jons

Heike Jons

Geography and Environment

My research has examined the role of women and BAME students and academics in the university from historical and contemporary perspectives.

Building on multi-method approaches, I have conducted questionnaire surveys, semi-structured interviews, as well as prosopographical and critical discourse analysis based on archival research.

My historical geographical research has discussed how early female academics in the University of Cambridge conducted slightly different academic practices than their male colleagues in the three decades between 1926 and 1955. While women were granted academic leaves to a similar extent than men, they focused those leaves more on research, travelled much less to conferences—which explains their ongoing underrepresentation in disciplinary histories—and went less often to the United States than men, therefore benefitting less from highly valued symbolical, cultural and economic capital for their research and careers (Jöns 2017).

My studies on visiting researchers from different countries in the Federal Republic of Germany from the 1950s to the 1990s have shown how motivations and arrangements for transnational academic mobility varied by country of work and gender, whereas research leave outcomes were much more shaped by the epistemic cultures of different disciplines and research practices rather than geographically unequal or gendered (Jöns 2011).

Collaborative HEA-funded research has examined how British home students with and without international experience and varying cultural backgrounds perceive and evaluate the teaching by international and home academics. This analysis has revealed how students with international experiences and with BAME backgrounds are much more open towards cultural diversity and acknowledging the benefits arising from being taught by international academics than non-BAME students without international experiences.

We have argued that these very different evaluations of the teaching and learning experience provided by international and home academics can be explained by cultural homophily and unconscious bias, which also shapes students' divergent perceptions of how their university degree programme has impacted on their acquisition of intercultural respect, understanding and networking skills (Tebbett, Jöns and Hoyler 2020).

Being a migrant academic myself, most of my research has discussed the unequal power relations of knowledge production in different Anglophone and non-Anglophone language contexts across the world (e.g., Jöns 2015; Jöns and Freytag 2016).


Tebbett, N., Jöns, H., Hoyler, M. (2020) Openness towards diversity? Cultural homophily in student perceptions of teaching and learning provided by international and home academics. Globalisation, Societies and Education, DOI: 10.1080/14767724.2020.1835464

Jöns, H., Monk, J. and Keighren, I. (2017) Toward more inclusive and comparative perspectives in the histories of geographical knowledge. The Professional Geographer 69 (4), 655-660

Jöns, H. (2017) Feminizing the university: the mobilities, careers, and contributions of early female academics in the University of Cambridge, 1926-1955. The Professional Geographer 69 (4), 670-682

Jöns, H. and Freytag, T. (2016) Boundary-spanning in social and cultural geography. Social and Cultural Geography 17 (1), 1-22

Jöns, H. (2015) Talent mobility and the shifting geographies of Latourian knowledge hubs. Population, Space and Place 21 (4), 372-389

Jöns, H. (2011) Transnational academic mobility and gender. Globalisation, Societies and Education 9 (2), 183-209