Call for Expressions of Interest from Academic Departments and Research Groupings: ACDI Joint Research Chair and Senior Research Fellow Positions


Call for Expressions of Interest from Academic Departments and Research Groupings

ACDI Joint Research Chair and Senior Research Fellow Positions

The African Climate and Development Initiative (ACDI) and has secured funding to support a new round of Research Chairs and Senior Research Fellows.  The aim of these positions is (i) to enhance academic leadership and research production in priority thematic areas of the ACDI; and (ii) to strengthen the engagement between ACDI core research activities and research groupings within the wider ACDI community at UCT.

For this round, the Chair/Fellow positions must involve a co-funding model between ACDI and the partnering research grouping or department.  ACDI can contribute R300,000 per year, for three years, towards four joint positions.  A partnering research group or department would need to propose a model for full or partial matching of the ACDI contribution.  The matching should involve a direct financial contribution, and may be supplemented by in-kind contributions.  Formal approval of the Chair/Fellow is required from the home Faculty.

The Chair/Fellow will hold a joint appointment between ACDI and their home group or department, governed by an MoU between the ACDI, the Chair/Fellow, their HoD and Dean of the Chair/Fellow’s home Faculty.  During the three-year tenure, it is expected that the scholar selected will be able to leverage additional funding to grow their research theme during and beyond the initial term.

Chair / Fellow Research Theme

For the purposes of the Chairs/Fellows, a research theme is defined as a programme of research that addresses a significant issue that is of relevance to the ACDI research agenda. It should be highly relevant to South African and/or regional contexts, but also be of international significance.  The theme or problem to be addressed should, ideally:

  • be of relevance to both climate change and development;
  • involve an interdisciplinary research approach;
  • engage collaborators from more than a single department or centre at UCT through their research;
  • produce peer reviewed publications, which are co-attributed to the home Department and ACDI;
  • develop the capacity of associated early career researchers; and  
  • link with external organisations such as government, business, NGOs.

Current Priority Themes in ACDI Research Strategy

The ACDI’s overarching research aim is to understand how to enable equitable socio-economic development, wellbeing and security in Africa in the face of climate change.  This firstly requires research that addresses questions around fundamental transitions and shifts that are needed to deliver sustainable development outcomes, explored – in ACDI’s case – through the lens of climate change.  Secondly, it also requires more pragmatic research that helps build the knowledge base for low carbon and/or climate resilient development options and solutions, from local to national to regional action scales.  These more discrete research topics, should, where possible, contribute towards answering ACDIs overarching research aim.

In this context, ACDI is interested in research that asks substantial theoretical or practical questions around climate and development, explored through one or more geographical, sectoral and/or social-ecological lenses.  Lenses include, but are not limited to: cities and urban areas, water and/or food and/or energy, rural systems and livelihoods, coastal systems, business and infrastructure, natural capital / ecosystem services, health.  Scales of enquiry might vary from international to local.

Funding and administrative arrangements for the Chairs/Fellows

Full time UCT GOB research or academic staff who become Chairs/Fellows would continue to be employed on UCT’s permanent conditions of service, and UCT will continue to pay their salaries. A portion of the new funding can be used support relief from duties in the Chair or Fellow’s home department, for example by the employment of a replacement contract lecturer. For non-GOB and contract research staff, a portion of the funding may be used to support their CoE. In all cases, a proportion of the funding must be used for post-doctoral, PhD and/or Masters scholarships; general research expenses are also eligible. Chairs/Fellows will be expected to secure additional funding to supplement the core financing from ACDI and the partnering research group/department, for example through the NRF, and other university and external sources of funding. It is expected that the Chair/Fellow will continue to contribute to their departmental activities, but in a significantly reduced manner, and contribute some lecturing and supervision on the ACDI Masters programme. The total departmental teaching and administrative load for the Chair/Fellow should be a maximum of 50% the departmental norm.


It is expected that a Research Chair will normally be a full-time employee of UCT, at Associate or Full Professor level. A Senior Research Fellow will normally be a full time lecturing or research staff member at the University of Cape Town, with at least five years of experience at lecturer or senior lecturer level (or equivalent for full time researchers). External recruitment will be considered, but will need special motivation – for example, to attract expertise in a critical area not already present within UCT. Appointment of UCT employees is subject to approval of the relevant Dean and Head of Department, and approval must have been obtained at the application stage.

Transformation and Employment Equity

This call encourages EOIs that identify candidates that will contribute to UCT’s transformation and employment equity strategy, through retention or recruitment of black South African researchers.  In the case of black African SA candidates, nominating groups are encouraged to have early discussions with their faculty on the possibility of leveraging additional UCT resources to support costs of the post.

Selection process

There will be a two-stage selection process:

  1. Submissions of expressions of interest (EOI) from a research grouping or department, from which up to four Joint Chair/Fellow positions will be selected – deadline 2 June 2017; decision mid-June.
  2. Full proposal submission – deadline end June; decision late July.

Chairs and Fellows and be expected to take up their positions no later than January 2018.

Interested nominating groups are encouraged to have informal discussions with Professor Mark New and Ms Zoë Visser in advance of submitting an EOI.

EOI Format

Maximum two pages which includes the following information:

  • The name of the proposing entity (Research Grouping or Department);
  • Summary of research areas / foci of the proposing entity, and how these overlap with ACDI’s research agenda;
  • The proposed focus area for the Joint Chair/Fellow, and how this would contribute to ACDI’s research mission and intellectual leadership;
  • If a specific staff member has been identified, a short profile; if no specific staff member has been identified, a profile of the envisaged Chair/Fellow, and a description of how this person would be identified;
  • A proposed co-funding model, and how the overall joint budget would be used; and
  • Letters or emails of support from the Dean and HoD of the host department and/or faculty (as an Appendix).

EOI Selection committee

  • Professor Mark New
  • Two members of the ACDI Steering Committee
  • One external senior UCT academic not directly involved in ACDI activities.

Full Proposal Format and Process

Full proposal procedures will be provided when successful EOIs are requested to proceed with a full proposal.