Training the Next Generation of African Scholars at the Center for African Studies

March 1, 2021

The Center for African Studies Postdoctoral Research Fellowship program will be relaunched and accepting applications beginning Monday, March 15.

This fellowship is aimed at providing opportunities for postdoctoral candidates to conduct independent research, publish, and increase knowledge in their fields of study that will be beneficial to the African continent, and prepare them to be successful in their chosen career paths. An applicant should have received their PhD within the last five years and hold an academic appointment at a university or research institution in Africa. This includes those with a commitment of appointment at the time of application.

“We hope this program will contribute to long-term development of African researchers and their home institutions, and advance stronger ties with Harvard. Contemporary challenges require global collaboration across disciplines, and we are keen to empower future leaders with skills needed for them to succeed, with mentoring from faculty at Harvard and at partner universities,” said Professor Wafaie Fawzi, Interim Faculty Director, Harvard Center for African Studies.

The fellowship will support the development of a research project at selected Harvard University schools, departments, or laboratories in the field of their choice. This fellowship offers 18-month postdoctoral fellowships with 12 months spent at scholars’ home institution and six months spent in residency at Harvard University.

Previous Fellows:

  • Grieve Chelwa completed his Ph.D. in economics at the University of Cape Town, where he focused on the economics of tobacco control in South Africa, Uganda, and Zambia. Previously, Grieve was a researcher at the Center for Financial Regulation and Inclusion in Cape Town, where he worked on public policy issues in the Southern African region.
  • Mekonnen Firew Ayano completed his doctorate at Harvard Law School and holds an LL.M. degree from the American University in Cairo and an LL.B. degree from Addis Ababa University. He previously worked as a legal counsel for the World Bank, as a judge in Ethiopia, and as a lecturer at Addis Ababa University.

Grieve Chelwa 2016

Dr. Grieve Chelwa at CAS in 2016


During the fellowship, as the Center’s first postdoctoral fellowship recipients, Grieve Chelwa and Mekonnen Firew Ayano, divided their time between Cambridge, Massachusetts and Johannesburg, South Africa, in the pursuit of scholarship and teaching. In the penultimate year of the fellowship, both were based in Johannesburg at the Wits Institute for Economic and Social Research (WISER) at the University of the Witwatersrand.

In the Fall of 2018, Mekonnen Ayano completed his book manuscript and published a journal article at the New York University School of Law. He presented his work at the African Studies Workshop on November 26, 2018, on Land Conflict in Transitional Economies. He has accepted a position as a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Missouri School of Law.

In Spring 2018, Grieve Chelwa accepted a position as a Lecturer in Economics at the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business and is now a Senior Lecturer and MBA Programme Convenor. He is also a Postdoctoral Fellow in Economics at The Institute on Race & Political Economy at The New School.

Deadline to apply: May 17, 2021

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