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Jean Lee Farmer

Advisor: Higher Education Professional Development, Stellenbosch University

Dr Jean Lee Farmer was born in Maitland, Cape Town in the same year that Apartheid became law. She completed her undergraduate studies and Honors at the University of the Western Cape and went on to become a high school teacher. She later resigned from teaching and went on to do a MPhil in Intercultural Communication at Stellenbosch University – an institution she had not been allowed to study at when she was younger.

She joined the Centre for Teaching and Learning at Stellenbosch University in 2010 where she interviewed for her current post as advisor with her friend and mentor (and supervisor until her passing), the late Prof Brenda Leibowitz. Jean felt that Brenda was one of the few people who “saw” her as the young girl from Hanover Park who wanted to become an academic. Brenda had been a teacher in Hanover Park while Jean was a high school student and both were involved in the 1980s student uprising for equal education.

Jean continues to critique higher education culture for the slow pace of transformation and lack of diversification in thinking rather than expecting staff and students to assimilate with the culture. She continues to search for ways to work collaboratively towards social justice through teaching and learning.


  • 2010–2022
    Adviser, Stellenbosch University
  • 2007–2009
    English tutor, Stellenbosch University


  • 2021 
    Stellenbosch University, PhD Higher Education
  • 2009 
    Stellenbosch University, MPhil Intercultural Communication
  • 1991 
    University of the Western Cape, BA (Hons)


  • 2021
    Narratives of Black Women in South Africa higher education: an autoethnography,
  • 2016
    Higher Education, Collaborative research in contexts of inequality: the role of social reflexivity
  • 2015
    Studies in Educational Evaluation, Reflections on professional learning: Choices, context and culture
  • 2014
    Mind, Culture ad=nd Activity, Influences of the past on professional lives: A collective commentary
  • 2012
    South African Journal of Higher Education, 36 © Unisa Press ISSN 1011-3487 SAJHE 26(1)2012 pp 36–50 Early assessment: Part of a bigger plan towardsfirst-year success?
  • 2011
    Higher Education, ‘‘It’s been a wonderful life’’: accounts of the interplaybetween structure and agency by ‘‘good’’ universityteachers
  • 2010
    , Language choices of English L1 learners in a Western Cape high school
  • 2010
    Stellenbosch Papers in Linguistics, Transitions and translations from Afrikaans to English in schools of the Helderberg area