UCT–UoB launch Professorship and Fellowship programme

09 March 2023 | Professor Sue Harrison

Dear colleagues and students

The University of Cape Town (UCT) has a long and rich history of collaboration with various partners across the educational, societal and governmental spheres – nationally and internationally. Today we are celebrating a new initiative within a partnership that has grown into one of the most important and rewarding for each university.

Our longstanding relationship with the University of Bristol (UoB) has its genesis in our common membership of the Worldwide University Alliance, strengthened by our co-leadership of the World Universities Network (WUN) Global Africa Group.

This thriving bilateral relationship launched the Research Beyond Borders initiative in July 2019: a cohort of eight cotutelle PhD researchers working between the two universities in the fields of public health and poverty.

One of the elements that has underpinned our partnership is a common set of strategic values and our shared commitment to social justice. These are embedded in a new initiative that was announced on Tuesday, 7 March at the Vice-Chancellor’s Open Lecture by Professor Evelyn Welch, with the collaborative agreement signed the following day.

The first strand of this new initiative is the UCT–UoB Professorship Programme. Each university will award a professorship to three researchers for a duration of three years. These researchers will have the opportunity to spend up to six months a year at the partner university, working within one of three themes that have been jointly identified by the two universities.

  • The first of the three themes is “Hidden histories”. In this theme UCT and the UoB will encourage selected researchers to explore the production of critical histories that make visible the often invisible and challenge the historical narratives of the powerful.
  • The second theme of “Climate change impacts and opportunities for health” will offer selected researchers the opportunity to explore how climate change impacts health and to identify solutions that can reduce the impact of climate change on health and improve health outcomes, including at the city scale.
  • The third theme, “Environmental and social sustainability”, will encourage the exploration of a broad range of fields in which UCT and the UoB have complementary strengths, including (but not limited to) poverty and inequality, educational access, energy use and conservation, wastewater and water quality, as well as biodiversity and natural resources.

The second strand of the initiative is the UCT–UoB Fellowship programme. Both universities believe in the importance of supporting their early career researchers so that they can build their international experience and profile and take advantage of the possibilities that each institution has to offer. Three early- to mid-career researchers from each institution will spend a maximum of three months a year over two years at the partner university. The fellows may focus on any research area. Applications in this case are not restricted to the three themes listed above.

Travel and subsistence for these professors and fellows will be covered by the two universities. In return, these professors and fellows will be expected to co-publish and engage in joint activities such as lecturing. We also believe that over time, this will lead to co-supervision of postgraduate researchers and joint grant applications.

A call for applications to these programmes will follow; please do keep an eye on communication from our Research Office.

A final but critical element of this initiative is around how our two institutions collaborate on research projects originating from these two programmes. The UoB and UCT are leading an initiative that will produce a guide on collaborations between Africa and the global north. This guide will go beyond the rhetoric of ‘equitable partnerships’ and lead to a systemic shift, one which we believe will enable Africa to take its rightful place in global knowledge production. It is envisaged that all research collaborations that emanate from the partnership between the UoB and UCT will reflect the spirit and practice of the Perivoli Africa Research Centre (PARC) Charter.

We value this opportunity to collaborate with a Northern-based partner who is thoroughly committed to the importance of African-led research, both in Africa and globally. The opportunities embedded in this initiative will enrich the participants, strengthen the partnership between our two institutions, and enable the birth of exciting new research projects as well as the continuance and growth of existing ones.

Please join me in celebrating this wonderful new programme and strong partnership.


Professor Sue Harrison
Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Internationalisation

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