Application to the STIAS Programme

Guiding Principles

STIAS provides and maintains an independent ‘creative space for the mind’ to advance the cause of science and scholarship across all disciplines. It is global in its reach and local in its African roots, and values original thinking and innovation in this context.

No restriction is placed on the country of origin, discipline, or academic affiliation when STIAS considers a fellowship invitation. It encourages the cross-pollination of ideas across cultures, academic or otherwise, and hence gives preference to projects that will tap into, and benefit from, a multi-disciplinary discourse while also contributing unique perspectives to such a discourse. This interaction is fostered by inviting individual fellows or project teams where each team member is evaluated individually.

To facilitate the heterogeneity STIAS strives for, its programme specifically includes artists-in-residence and short-term fellows drawn from the sphere of public commentary and opinion making.  Applications in these categories will be considered on their own merit, rather than strictly following the research oriented criteria posted below. A limited number of  applications from young scholars who have completed at least one postdoctoral fellowship (preferably more than one) will also be considered annually. Apart from candidates who apply within the framework of an agreement with the Volkswagen Foundation (see below), STIAS does not consider postdoctoral applications per se .

The STIAS programme comprises projects which are entirely self-generated and proposed by applicants, as well as projects within a portfolio of long-term theme driven projects; participation in one of the latter projects likewise requires  application and a proposal within the framework of a given theme. STIAS fellows are expected to be resident at STIAS for the duration of a fellowship, with no academic obligations other than pursuing the proposed research project. The only other obligations are to share in the discussion over lunch which is served daily at the STIAS Wallenberg Research Centre, and to participate in the Thursday STIAS fellows’ seminar where fellows in turn present their work to other fellows and invited academics from the local community.

Admittance to the STIAS programme is either by invitation or by application as described below.

Applications by Swedish researchers will be considered within the framework of support provided by the  Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation, or in the case of applications related to STIAS Theme  projects, the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation.

Application and Selection

STIAS fellows are selected on the basis of academic excellence and the originality of their proposed research project. The following criteria serve as important guidelines:


Does the proposal entail research at the highest level?


Does the project break new ground? Does it hold the promise of new insights and the potential to produce new knowledge?


To what extent does the project draw on different disciplines and what methodology is envisaged for doing so? Will the project facilitate an interdisciplinary discourse?


Does the project have any relevance for South Africa and Africa as a whole?


How convincing is the proposed methodology and research design and how realistic is the research plan? Is the applicant equipped to deliver on the proposed project?

Selection is carried out on an individual basis, also in the case of a team application with more than one proposed team member.

A preliminary selection of candidates takes place against the background of the above criteria. Subsequently the overall composition of a semester/annual STIAS programme is also taken into consideration during a process wherein the Director is advised by the STIAS Academic Advisory Board.

Applications and suggestions for fellowships of at least one academic term, maximally two terms are preferred, and may be submitted in writing or via e-mail at any time. There is no deadline for applications, but it should be noted that selection is generally concluded at least twelve months in advance of the proposed period of residence. In exceptional and well motivated cases STIAS will consider fellowship applications for shorter periods of residency (with a minimum of one month). The STIAS terms run from mid-January to mid-June, and again from mid-July to early December, with two periods of recess in between. During these periods of recess STIAS cannot offer standard fellowship support, although it may be possible to make some ad hoc accommodation arrangements.

STIAS accepts and welcomes proposals for team projects (with typically three to five participants), especially within the context of the current long-term theme driven projects. Together with the project proposal the main proposer/PI is expected to submit the CV’s of the proposed team members, indicate the role of each in the project and provide a residential timetable which shows when team members have committed to be in residence at STIAS. In the case of the long-term theme driven projects preference will be given to projects which run over 3-4 years and where team members commit to spend at least two periods of overlapping residence at STIAS.  Selection for participation in a team project is carried out on an individual basis.

As part of an early career advancement programme STIAS has launched the Iso Lomso Fellowship for Early Career African Scholars (applications for the current call have now been closed). In addition, STIAS annually considers a limited number of fellowship applications from young scholars (typically of age 35 years or younger) which will be evaluated within this context and against the standard criteria listed above, academic excellence and originality in particular. Applicants in this category are expected to have completed a PhD (or equivalent degree) and preferably at least one post-doctoral fellowship at a recognised academic institution. Post-doctoral fellows in the Volkswagen Foundation’s “Knowledge for Tomorrow – Cooperative Research Projects in Sub-Saharan Africa” funding initiative are also encouraged to apply for a STIAS postdoctoral fellowship module (more information about this module can be found in the relevant information sheet).

As of May 2017  STIAS particularly welcomes applications for the two terms of  2019;  the first term of 2018 has almost reached full capacity, while limited capacity is still available for the second term. Prospective applicants for 2018 are advised to contact the STIAS Programme Manager Dr Christoff Pauw  (e-mail  ) to verify details before applying.

Along with a covering letter, applications should include:

  1. A comprehensive Curriculum Vitae (or CV’s in the case of a team project)
  2. A list of publications
  3. One or two recent articles characteristic of the applicant’s research work, or related to the
    proposed project
  4. A project title and description (2-4 pages) of the planned work at STIAS, and the expected outcome
  5. A brief summary/ introductory text of the proposed project accessible to readers from
    outside the candidate’s specific discipline. This should be maximally 200 words and is also
    intended for posting on the STIAS website (see project summaries  for examples).
  6. A clear indication of the length of fellowship being applied for, together with preferred and alternative dates of residence at STIAS.
  7. A brief indication of how the applicant became aware of the STIAS programme.

Applications may be submitted, preferably by e-mail to Ms Gudrun Schirge at .

or by mail to

Ms Gudrun Schirge
STIAS Senior Programme Administrator
Private Bag X1
Matieland 7602
South Africa