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SU researchers selected for prestigious international fellowship
Author: Corporate Communication/Korporatiewe Kommunikasie [Rozanne Engel]
Published: 13/07/2020

Two Stellenbosch University (SU) researchers have recently been selected to be part of the prestigious Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study fellowship at Harvard University in the United States of America.

Dr Debra Shepherd, a lecturer at the Economics Department and Prof Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, research chair in Social Change and Transformation at SU, will be part of 42 fellows representing six countries selected for the 2020–2021 cohort.

Radcliffe is Harvard University's institute for advanced study and each year, the institute hosts leading scholars, scientists, artists, and practitioners from around the world in its renowned fellowship program. This year there was nearly 1 400 applicants for the fellowship.

According to Shepherd she feels “incredibly lucky" to have received this opportunity at Harvard. “I believe that this fellowship will provide me with another lens through which to engage with diverse knowledge communities, as well as building upon and expanding the networks of my department and SU," says Shepard.

For Madikizela it will be the second time that she will be part of a fellowship at Harvard. While completing her PhD at the University of Cape Town in the late 1990s, she spent a year at Harvard University's Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences on a Dissertation Writing Fellowship. After being invited to join the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) where she was appointed to lead the Human Rights Violations Committee of the TRC in the Western Cape, she had to suspend her PhD.

“When I left the TRC in April 1998, I returned to Harvard University to take up a fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute where I completed my doctoral dissertation. After completing my PhD, I stayed four more years at Harvard, teaching part-time at Radcliffe and other colleges in Cambridge. The time at Harvard was the most productive period of my academic career. This fellowship is an important opportunity to test my ideas in the context of an international group of scholars leading in a range of different fields," says Madikizela.

Shepherd also holds an Iso Lomso Early Career African Researcher Fellowship (2018–2020) with the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study and says she cannot wait to share her research with the other fellows.

“Radcliffe refers to itself as 'a cross-disciplinary laboratory of ideas', so I am excited to see how other academics are bridging the boundaries of their own fields. I also relish the chance to be an ambassador not only for Stellenbosch University, but also for Africa and the Global South."

Radcliffe is planning a virtual fellowship at this time, with the possibility of a residential component, pending decisions on Harvard-wide policies by university leaders, informed by epidemiological models of the spread of COVID-19 in the United States.

For more information on the Radcliffe Fellowship, click here.​