Apply for an ACC postdoctoral fellowship on sustainable cities

Friday, 6 July 2018

The African Centre for Cities (ACC) has called for applications for a postdoctoral research fellowship to work on sustainable cities in Africa, with a focus on Cape Town. Applications are due by 6 August 2018.

The ACC was established in 2007 at the University of Cape Town as an urban research institute. The ACC is based in the School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics in the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, but is interdisciplinary in its scope, drawing expertise on urban issues from across the university. The mission of the ACC is to ‘facilitate critical urban research and policy discourses for the promotion of vibrant, democratic and sustainable urban development in the global South’.

The ACC is a partner in the Pan African Research College on Sustainable Cities, launched in 2018. Funded by the Robert Bosch Stiftung, the college will see researchers in diverse fields share knowledge to better understand the complexities of urban Africa. The College is made up of senior researchers from five partner universities, namely the University of Ghana, University of Nairobi, the United Nations University Institute for Natural Resources (Accra, Ghana), the University of the Witwatersrand, and the University of Cape Town.

Call for applications

The ACC invites applications for a postdoctoral fellowship as part of the Pan African Research College. The successful candidate will be one of a cohort of 8 PhD candidates and 5 Post-Doctoral fellows based at the 5 partner universities that constitute the Pan African Research College on Sustainable Cities.

One of the ‘wicked problems’ facing Cape Town and other African cities are their inequitable and unsustainable spatial patterns, which are being exacerbated by new formal and informal urban growth. To help understand and better respond to this challenge, the postdoctoral researcher will be expected to undertake original and creative research on urban sprawl and land use dynamics in Cape Town and the implications for transforming Cape Town into a more equitable and sustainable city. This will need to include examining the dynamics of formal and informal urban growth, and the implications of current and alternative growth dynamics for households and for urban governance.

The postdoctoral researcher will also be expected to contribute to repositioning the African cities debate by going beyond the rhetoric that constrains Africa’s futures to the dual discourses and effects of colonial modernity and globalized notions of development, and by finding effective ways to engage critically with the particularity of African urbanisation challenges using alternative methods that embrace complexity and multi, inter and trans-disciplinary research and learning methods. In addition to building theory about ‘African cities’, the postdoctoral researcher is also expected to:

  • Produce and disseminate knowledge that contributes to scholarly/ academic debates
  • Contribute to the development of policy and practice outside of the academy
  • Contribute to the development of innovative methodologies in urban scholarship

Value and tenure

The value of the Fellowship is R300,000 per year, and is renewable for a total of up to two and a half years (30 months), depending on satisfactory progress. The fellowship does not include relocation costs or fringe benefits. The incumbent will be provided with a desk and appropriate access rights to use the research facilities of the University of Cape Town.


Applicants may not previously have held full-time permanent professional or academic posts, must have completed a doctoral degree in an area of study relevant to the post (e.g. Geography, Sociology, Urban Planning, Urban Studies, and Development Studies) within the last five years, and should have an academic publication and presentation record commensurate with this stage in an academic career. Applicants should also demonstrate an awareness of actors, challenges and opportunities related to urban sustainability approaches and have an interest in interdisciplinarity and broad engagement with diverse sectors to co-produce knowledge on urban issues. The successful incumbent will be required to comply with the University’s approved policies, procedures and practises for the postdoctoral sector.

Application requirements

Applications must be submitted by midday on 6 August 2018 and consist of:

  • A letter of application stating areas of expertise, research interests and experience
  • The proposed focus of the research (maximum of two pages)
  • A CV including a list of publications
  • The names and contact details of at least two academics who have taught, supervised or worked alongside the applicant as referees


Please submit your application to Maryam Waglay, African Centre for Cities via email or posting/delivering to Maryam Waglay, African Centre for Cities, Room 2.11, Environmental and Geographical Sciences Building, University of Cape Town, Private Bag X3, Rondebosch, Cape Town, South Africa 7701. Please clearly state that this is an application for the ‘ACC Pan African Research College Postdoctoral Fellowship’.

Selection process

Eligible and complete applications will be considered by the African Centre for Cities as well as a committee consisting of academic staff from the 5 partner universities.


For more information on this position, please contact Dr Mercy Brown-Luthango.

Continue reading