January 30, 2020

New chair at Maastricht University with focus on LGBTQI+ Diversity and Health

The Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience at Maastricht University (UM) has appointed Professor Kai J. Jonas on the chair “Applied Social Psychology with special focus on LGBTQI+ Diversity and Health. Jonas: “I think it’s great that UM has dared to appoint a professor on this chair. In the Netherlands (and the world), not many universities take this step.” With Jonas added, the so-called ‘pink professors’ can be counted on one hand. “Therefore, this appointment also has a symbolic function. It’s a societal and political signal, we’re saying: this is important.” People with an LGBTQI+ background are often missing a role model. “What they see the most is what they don’t want to become. We, as a university, want to tell the world, our employees, and our students: you can be who you want to be.”

Professor Kai J. Jonas. Photo by Thom Frijns

Bigger steps

“The professorship will allow me to dive deeper and make more connection, and to keep making bigger steps in developing the field. We do much more than passing on knowledge, we participate in global citizenship. How can you live and work well in a global society? This includes giving people with a minority background the same space and opportunity as everyone else. To that I want to make my small contribution.” 

In a short time, a lot has happened

A lot has happened during Jonas’ career. Fresh out of university, Jonas found himself in a German academic landscape with only two openly homosexual professors in the field of Psychology. When he asked them for advice on how to navigate this world, the answer was: “Don’t tell anyone, don’t do any ‘gay’-research, and just act normal”. In the late 90s, it was important for professors to reflect the hetero normative image. Now in 2020, it’s possible to become a professor in the field of LGBTQI+ research. “That’s an amazing development.”

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