Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools
You are here: Home > Research & Publications

Research Areas

by Alberts, Heike C last modified Feb 01, 2018 01:14 PM


Book Cover


International Students and Scholars


My primary research focus is skilled migrations, specifically of international students and scholars. A project carried out jointly with Helen Hazen (then at Macalester College) focused on return migration decisions of international students. We argued that the decision-making process is layered, with general conditions in the home country providing a framework that constrains the degree to which personal factors can be taken into account. We published two articles on this research—one primarily reporting the results of focus group research with students of selected nationalities, the other based on a larger survey of international students. Building on this work, I have also investigated changing enrollment patterns of international students after 9/11. These patterns cannot be explained solely by regulations implemented to increase security in the US, but are also a response to increasing international competition for international students and developments in the educational sector of several countries.

Jointly with Helen Hazen I edited a book about international students and scholars in the United States. In addition to the introduction and conclusion, we co-wrote chapters about international students' return migration intentions and the challenges of teaching with an accent, and I wrote a chapter about the return migration intentions of German faculty teaching in the United States. Other chapters were contributed by internationally known scholars such as Allan Findlay, Russell King, Kavita Pandit, and Ken Foote.


Alberts, Heike (2017): “Complex Decisions: Factors Determining International Students’ Migrations,” in: Micheline van Riemsdijk and Qingfang Wang, eds. Rethinking International Skilled Migration. Routledge, New York, 36-53  

Alberts, Heike and Helen Hazen, eds. (2013): International Students and Scholars in the United States: Coming from Abroad, Palgrave Macmillan, New York

Alberts, Heike (2007): “Beyond the Headlines: Changing Patterns in International Student Enrollment in the United States,” GeoJournal 68, 141-153

Hazen, Helen and Heike Alberts (2006): “Visitors or Immigrants? International Students in the United States,” Population, Space and Place 12, 201-216

Alberts, Heike and Helen Hazen (2005): “’There are always two voices…’ International Students’ Intentions to Stay in the United States or Return to their Home Countries,” International Migration 43(3), 131-154





My focus on skilled migrations has also led me to examine the experiences of international faculty in the United States. Based on the results of a survey of students and interviews with international faculty, I identified the major problems occurring in the classroom and offered concrete advice for addressing these issues. In collaboration with Helen Hazen (then at Macalester College) and Rebecca Theobald (University of Colorado at Colorado Springs) I have extended this work to focus on the issues facing non-native English-speaking instructors specifically, again with the aim of systematically examining the challenges and developing strategies to improve communication between international instructors and their American students. Together we have also completed a survey-based study on student incivilities, with the goal of identifying which instructors are more likely to experience classroom incivilities and assessing the effectiveness of strategies to address these issues.

More recently my colleagues Laura Carnahan and Mary Jo Pankratz and I have written an article about teaching physical geography with toys, and I followed up on my research about sports with an article  and a book chapter about teaching human geography with sports examples. Bruce Niendorf and I have written about our experiences with teaching students about the Berlin Wall.

Alberts, Heike and Bruce Niendorf (2017): “Reaching Learning Goals through Learning On-Site in Germany,” The Geography Teacher 14(4), 141-154

Niendorf, Bruce and Heike Alberts (2017): “Student Cultural Interaction in a Short-Term Study Abroad Program,” Journal of Teaching in International Business 28(1), 64-71

Alberts, Heike (2015): "Using Sports Examples in Geography Courses," Journal of Geography 114(5), 211-218

Alberts, Heike and Bruce Niendorf (2014): "Engaging all Senses: Learning about the Berlin Wall from Classroom Instruction and On-Site Experience," Research in Geographic Education 16(1), 57-66

Alberts, Heike (2014): “Getting the Ball Rolling: Teaching Ethnic Geography through Sports Examples,” in: Lawrence E. Estaville, Edris J. Montalvo and Fenda A. Akiwumi, eds. Teaching Ethnic Geography in the 21st Century. Pathways in Geography. National Council for Geographic Education, Washington, 80-86

Carnahan, Laura, Mary Jo Pankratz and Heike Alberts (2014): "Teaching Physical Geography with Toys, Household Items, and Food," The Geography Teacher 11(3), 93-107

Alberts, Heike, Helen Hazen and Rebecca Theobald (2010): “Classroom Incivilities: The Challenge of Interactions between College Students and Professors,” Journal of Geography in Higher Education 34(3), 439-462

Alberts, Heike (2008): “The Challenges and Opportunities of Foreign-Born Instructors in the Classroom,” Journal of Geography in Higher Education 32(2), 189-203



Ethnic Economies


My dissertation research and several follow-up projects focused on ethnic economies, specifically the Cuban enclave economy in Miami. Based on a survey of Cubans in different neighborhoods in Miami and a series of in-depth interviews in 2000 and 2006 I argued that Cuban immigrants in Miami have become increasingly diverse in terms of their socio-economic status, political and ideological backgrounds, and personal experiences. These changes reshaped the Cuban enclave economy, which not only grew in size, but also branched into a number of more specialized ethnic economies. In addition, the importance of ethnic solidarity for the functioning of the ethnic enclave has declined over time. In order to draw these findings together, I proposed a model of ethnic enclave development that reflects these changes over time and space. I presented these findings in a series of peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, each focusing on different aspects.


Alberts, Heike (2009): “The Missing Evidence for Ethnic Solidarity among Cubans in Miami,” Journal of Immigrant and Refugee Studies 7, 250-266

Alberts, Heike (2006): “Changes in Ethnic Solidarity in Cuban Miami,” Geographical Review 95(2), 231-248

Alberts, Heike (2006): “The Multiple Transformations of Miami,” in: Smith, Heather and Owen Furuseth, eds. Latinos in the New South: Transformations of Place, Ashgate, 135-151

Alberts, Heike (2006): “Geographic Boundaries of the Cuban Enclave Economy in Miami,” in: Kaplan, Dave and Wei Li, eds. Landscapes of the Ethnic Economy, Rowman and Littlefield, Lanham, 35-48





Julie Cidell (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) and I were able to turn our passion for chocolate into academic research. One of our articles, written mostly for a high school and undergraduate audience, is a comparison of the European and American chocolate industries. Our second article takes a more theoretical approach and applies convention theory to the issue of food quality, arguing that historical developments of chocolate manufacturing account for many of the differences in chocolate quality and consumption patterns among different countries.

Because numerous colleagues contacted us to tell us that they are using our articles in their classes, I followed up with a single-authored article that provides concrete ideas for how cocoa and chocolate can be used to teach a variety of different skills in human geography classes. More recently, Julie Cidell and I wrote another chapter about chocolate for an edited book about the politics and economics of chocolate.

Alberts, Heike and Julie Cidell (2016): "Chocolate Consumption, Manufacturing, and Quality in Europe and North America," in: Mara Squicciarini and Johan Swinnen, eds. The Economics of Chocolate. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 119-133. 

Alberts, Heike (2010): “Using Cocoa and Chocolate to Teach Human Geography,” Journal of Geography, 109(3), 105-112

Cidell, Julie and Heike Alberts (2006): “Constructing Quality—the Multinational Histories of Chocolate,” Geoforum 37(6), 999-1007

Alberts, Heike and Julie Cidell (2006): “Chocolate Consumption, Manufacturing and Quality in Europe and North America,” Geography 91(3), 218-226



Historic Preservation/World Heritage Sites


I also have a long-standing interest in historic preservation and heritage sites, which allowed me to carry out smaller projects in collaboration with other colleagues. Together with Mark Brinda (then at the University of Minnesota) I completed a study about approaches to historic preservation in Quedlinburg, Germany, focusing on the tensions between preserving our urban heritage and making cities livable for their inhabitants. A book chapter with an update about this study was published in a book about urban developments after German reunification.

Another paper, written jointly with Helen Hazen (then at Macalester College), examined the challenges of preserving authenticity and integrity at UNESCO World Heritage sites. It describes both natural and anthropogenic threats to world heritage sites and how they impact the authenticity and integrity of these sites.


Alberts, Heike (2014): "Preserving the Past Before and After the Wende: A Case Study of Quedlinburg," in: Cliver, Gwyneth and Carrie Smith-Prei, eds. Bloom and Bust. Urban Landscapes in the East since German Reunification, Berghahn, New York, 21-44

Alberts, Heike and Helen Hazen (2010): “Maintaining Authenticity and Integrity at Cultural World Heritage Sites,” Geographical Review 100(1), 56-73

Alberts, Heike and Mark Brinda (2005): “Changing Approaches to Historic Preservation in Quedlinburg, Germany,” Urban Affairs Review 40(3), 390-401





I love watching sports, so it was only natural that sports would also become a research area for me. To date I have worked on three sports-related projects. I published an article about Berlin's failed bid to host the 2000 Olympic Games as well as a photo essay about the reuse of sports facilities after the Winter Olympic Games. A study about the migration of athletes resulted in a book co-authored with my colleague Kazimierz Zaniewski. In the book we examine the migration patterns of soccer, volleyball, and handball players to Western European Leagues and how changing rules of citizenship have transformed national sports teams.


Alberts, Heike and Kazimierz Zaniewski (2011): The Internationalization of European Sports Teams and the Issue of National Citizenship: Can Sports Transcend Political Borders? The Edwin Mellen Press, Lewiston

Alberts, Heike (2011): "The Reuse of Sports Facilities after the Winter Olympic Games," Focus on Geography 54(1), 24-32

Alberts, Heike (2009): “The Olympic Games and Urban Development—The Case of Berlin, Germany,” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 33(2), 502-516



Document Actions
by Alberts, Heike C last modified Feb 01, 2018 01:14 PM