Funding organisation Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Germany
University of Nottingham, United Kingdom
Funding period 2004-2006
Investigators Heike Jöns, Mike Heffernan
  Universities are constituted by complex multi-scalar flows of people, materialities and information. Yet, they have often been studied using place-based perspectives on individual members and disciplines. This research, funded by a Feodor Lynen Postdoctoral Research Fellowship hosted by Mike Heffernan at the University of Nottingham, has reconstructed some of the external linkages of universities by analyzing how resulting contact patterns on the international scale shaped university-based research, teaching, expertise and reputation at home and abroad, and changed over time. The archival work suggested two lines of inquiry:

(1) Academic travel from Cambridge, 1885-1960s

Based on unpublished archival data on all applications for leave of absence by Cambridge University Teaching Officers, this study analysed the role of travel for the formation of global knowledge nodes and networks (Jöns 2008); how subject-specific cultures of academic travel developed over time (Heffernan and Jöns 2013); and in which way travel cultures varied according to different types of academic work (Jöns 2008), imperial context (Jöns 2016) and gender (Jöns 2017).

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. doi:10.1080/00330124.2017.1289778

Jöns, H. 2016. The University of Cambridge, academic expertise and the British Empire, 1885-1962. Environment and Planning A: International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 48 (1): 94-114. doi:10.1177/0308518X15594802 / extended open access version

Jöns, H. 2015. Talent mobility and the shifting geographies of Latourian knowledge hubs. Population, Space and Place 21 (4): 372-389. doi:10.1002/psp.1878

Heffernan, M. and Jöns, H. 2013. Research travel and disciplinary identities in the University of Cambridge, 1885-1955. British Journal for the History of Science 46 (2): 255-286. doi:10.1017/S000708741200074X

Jöns, H. 2008. Academic travel from Cambridge University and the formation of centres of knowledge, 1885-1954. Journal of Historical Geography 34 (2): 338-362. doi:10.1016/j.jhg.2007.11.006

(2) The politics of honorary degrees in Oxford and Cambridge, 1900-2000

This part of the project examined the production and reproduction of cultural and intellectual authority in the ancient universities of Oxford and Cambridge during the 20th century. We analysed how the patterns of honorary degree conferment in the two universities developed over time and how similarities and differences can be explained. Using unpublished archival material from both universities, our study revealed the important role of honorary degrees in expanding the cultural and political ‘reach’ of Oxford and Cambridge and explored the meaning of specific controversies over honorary degrees for the universities and the individuals concerned.

Heffernan, M. and Jöns, H. 2007. Degrees of influence: the politics of honorary degrees in the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, 1900-2000. Minerva: A Review of Science, Learning and Policy 45 (4): 389-416. doi:10.1007/s11024-007-9065-8.