Professor Jonathan Jansen

Jonathan Jansen (PhD Stanford) is in demand on the international speaking circuit for his experience and expertise in the areas of ethical leadership, organisational transformation, and educational change. He has been in the trenches and therefore tells stories from which he draws powerful principles for change that apply to private companies, non-governmental organisations and public entities as well as schools and universities. Whether on panels or in keynotes, he regularly scores top marks in participation evaluations which consistently mention the following standout qualities of his presentations:

  • straight-talking
  • communicability
  • relatability
  • humour and
  • honesty.

His approach is to leave every member of the audience with three take-home points; these he crafts from careful preparation with the event organiser or client. So no talk is the same as any other others even though the principles of leadership, transformation and change are consistently delivered.

In May 2014 he received an honorary doctor of letters degree at the University of Vermont and recently ‘Knowledge in the Blood: Confronting Race and the Apartheid Past’ won the Nayef Al Rodhan Prize, the largest award from the British Academy for the Social Science and Humanities, for its contribution to scholarly excellence and trans-cultural understanding. This book was listed as one of the best books of that year by the American Libraries Association. His book, How to Fix South Africa’s Schools: Lessons from Schools that Work, uses video-documentaries to capture what happens inside disadvantaged schools which nevertheless produce the best results in physical science and mathematics in South Africa; this book has been sent to every high school in the country.

He is a Fellow of the American Educational Research Association and a Fellow of the Academy of Science of the Developing World. His recent books include ‘Leading for Change’, ‘As by fire: the end of the South African university’, ‘Interracial intimacies on campuses’ and ‘Song for Sarah’. His 2018 books include ‘Inequality in South African schools, the ‘Politics of Curriculum’ (which he edited) and ‘Know that I Know’, a book on South African families who were separated by the racial laws of the 1950s.

He also writes popular books like Great South African Teachers (with two students), We need to talk, and We need to act (2013); and is a columnist for The Times. In 2013 he was awarded the Education Africa Lifetime Achiever Award in New York and the Spendlove Award from the University of California for his contributions to tolerance, democracy and human rights.  His latest book, Leading for Change: race, intimacy and leadership on divided university campuses, was highly acclaimed and ‘Song for Sarah: Lessons from My Mother’ “is the closest that I will get to a memoir for many years. I’m too young for that. I’ve just turned 60 and I still want to do a whole lot of stuff,” he says.

Professor Jansen has written more than 30 books.