Jansen is vice chancellor, University of the Free State, and former dean of education, University of Pretoria (2001-07). He is a former high school biology teacher who received his undergraduate education at UWC (BSc), his teaching credentials at UNISA (HED, BEd) and his postgraduate education in the USA (MS, Cornell; PhD, Stanford). His most recent books are Knowledge in the Blood (2009, Stanford University Press), which was selected by the Library Journal, USA, for the list of Best Books of 2009, and he has co-authored Diversity High: Class, Color, Character and Culture in a South African High School (2008, University Press of America). He holds honorary doctorates (education) from the University of Edinburgh, UK, and Cleveland State University, USA. He is also president of the South African Institute of Race Relations, and vice president, Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf).