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The STIAS fellowship

Join a cohort of leading thinkers in a creative space for the mind.

Applications are:


Current round closes:

30 Nov. 2020

For FIRST semester 2022

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.

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.

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.

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:

1. Level

Does the proposal entail research at the highest level?

2. Innovation

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

3. Interdisciplinarity

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?

4. Relevance

Does the project have relevance for South Africa and Africa? Is the project appropriate for the programme of an institute for advanced study?

5. Feasibility

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.

The STIAS Fellowship and Research Programme Committee meets regularly for a preliminary selection of candidates against the criteria listed above. Final selection is concluded during a biannual meeting of the committee where the overall composition of a semester programme is also taken into consideration. The Director is further advised by the STIAS Academic Advisory Board.

The STIAS terms run from mid-January to mid-June (first semester), and from mid-July to early December (second semester). During recess periods STIAS cannot offer standard fellowship support, although it may be possible to make ad hoc accommodation arrangements.

Applications and suggestions for fellowships of one academic semester, (approximately mid-January to mid-June; or mid-July to mid-December) may be submitted in writing or via e-mail at any time in advance of announced deadlines. Selection is generally concluded 12 months in advance of the proposed period of residence. In well-motivated cases STIAS will, at the Director’s discretion, consider applications for either a shorter period of residency (with a minimum of six weeks) or a period longer than one semester (with a maximum of two full semesters).

STIAS accepts and welcomes proposals for team projects (typically three to five participants), especially within the context of the current long-term research themes. Together with the project proposal the main proposer/team convenor is expected to submit the CVs of the proposed team members, indicate the role of each in the project and provide a timetable showing when team members have committed to be in residence at STIAS. Selection for participation in a team project is carried out on an individual basis.

In general, team project members spend overlapping residencies of at least two-and-a-half months, limited to a single period of residence. Support for a workshop/colloquium hosted by the members of a team project may be offered during the residency dates and will be limited to financing the local costs (airport transfers, accommodation, meeting venue and catering) for up to 12 participants (not counting the team fellows in residence).

As part of an early-to-mid-career advancement programme STIAS has launched the Iso Lomso Fellowship for African Scholars. In addition, STIAS annually considers a limited number of fellowship applications from young scholars (any nationality, typically in their mid-thirties) which are 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 at least one postdoctoral fellowship (preferably more than one) at recognised academic institutions.

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).

STIAS welcomes fellowship applications on a semester deadline basis.

As of September 2020 both terms of 2021 have reached full capacity.

Applications for the first term of 2022 may be submitted before 30 November 2020. The results of the cohort selection will be available in March 2021. Applications for the second term of 2022 may be submitted before 31 May 2021 with the results of the cohort selection  available in September 2021.

Applications submitted after a deadline for the term applied for will only be reviewed subject to availability in the STIAS programme.

STIAS fellows who have been in residence previously are welcome to submit new applications, bearing in mind that during a five-year cycle preference is given to first-time applicants.

Along with a covering letter, applications should include:

  1. A comprehensive Curriculum Vitae (or CVs in the case of a team project).
  2. A list of publications.
  3. One or two recent articles typical 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 and  expected outcomes.
  5. A brief summary/ introductory text (maximum 200 words) of the proposed project accessible to readers from outside the candidate’s specific discipline. This will be posted 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.

Submit via…

EMAIL (preferred):
[email protected]
Documentation should be submitted in PDF format.

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