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The STIAS Fellowship


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.

Meet the 2020 cohort:

Life as a STIAS Fellow

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.


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?


Applications for the second term of 2021 may be submitted before 31 May 2020. 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.

Additional Application Information

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 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.

For more information about the fellowship, visit