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Academy of Science of South Africa / British Academy ‘Urban Lives’ Workshop

Event type: Other Urban
Date: 21/02/2019

Gauteng, South Africa, 21-23 February 2019


The Academy of Science of South Africa and the British Academy are inviting applications from early career researchers in the humanities and social sciences to attend a research collaboration workshop on the broad theme of Urban Lives. The workshop aims to incentivise and establish engagement and collaboration between early career researchers from a broad range of disciplines within the humanities and social sciences in South Africa and the UK, encouraging the exchange of ideas across both disciplinary and national boundaries.

Purpose and Focus

Urban life has always been a significant locus for human interactions, mediating and influencing the shape of relationships, cultures, communities, systems of governance and imaginations. This importance in the past continues today and will do so in the future. More than half of the world’s population currently lives in cities, and this is projected to increase to almost five billion by 2030, with the majority of the urban growth concentrated in Africa and Asia.

The challenges and opportunities of living in an urban environment have been responded to in a number of ways across time and space, and academic, aesthetic, artistic, literary and policy thought is in a constant process of evolution to understand the unique context that cities provide as both a backdrop to and instrument for human life and development, to best harness the potential of urban life, and mitigate against threats posed by it.

This workshop will bring together early career researchers based in the UK and South Africa who are able to contribute multiple disciplinary and cross-regional insights from the humanities and the social sciences to our understanding of urban life, and to develop new approaches to the challenges of sustainable urban development, such as in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals, and more broadly the challenges and opportunities of life – past, present and future; real and imaginary – in urban environments.

In the workshop, it is planned that the theme of Urban Lives will be explored through sessions focusing on Livelihoods & Informality, Spaces & Habitats and Imaginations. The format of the workshop will allow for extensive discussion and debate, with considerable time set aside for this and wider networking opportunities.

The workshop will also provide an opportunity for participants to learn more about the different programmes and activities of ASSAf and the British Academy.

The Workshop

The workshop will bring together up to forty early career researchers (understood as up to seven years after obtaining a PhD) from across the humanities and social sciences to discuss key questions around the theme of Urban Lives. The workshop is designed specifically to encourage collaboration and networking between early career researchers based in the UK

and in South Africa. In advance of the workshop, participants will be able to discuss their research and exchange ideas among themselves; begin to discuss the session themes; and make connections for possible future activities.

In order to incentivise long-term collaboration and networking, seed funding will be made available for which participants can apply. These collaborations must be international in their makeup, and can be either partnerships or groups. Time will be set aside on the final day of the workshop for a ‘sandpit’ style session in which participants write up their proposed collaboration and submit applications by the end of the session. The application form for seed funding will be circulated in advance of the workshop to ensure participants are fully aware of the opportunity and requirements.

In addition to funding a number of collaborative proposals, the workshop will aim to provide opportunities for a range of other outputs. Participants, for example, could be invited to contribute to a publication focused on the workshop theme, either through individual papers or in partnership with other workshop participants, record podcasts or write blog posts that will be compiled into a series dedicated to the workshop.


The workshop will take place in Gauteng, South Africa, from Thursday 21 February to Saturday 23 February 2019. Costs of travel and accommodation for participants over the course of the workshop will be covered. Participants will be expected to attend the entire programme of the workshop and be available to travel at the times chosen by organisers on Wednesday 20 February or Thursday 21 February and Saturday 23 February.


For the purposes of this workshop, early career is defined as being within a seven-year period from the award of a doctorate. Participants must be based primarily either in the UK or in South Africa.

Application Process

Applicants should provide:

  • A CV which should not exceed two pages;
  • A one page summary of their initial thoughts on Urban Lives which could includediscussion on one or more of the three outlined sessions above;
  • A one page justification of why they are interested in Urban Lives based on their research and/or teaching areas; what disciplinary and interdisciplinary skills and/or experience they would contribute to the workshop; and how the workshop could help to develop their own research and career.Applicants must submit these documents in word format individually, and combined as a PDF.Applications should be sent to international@thebritishacademy.ac.uk no later than 5pm GMT on Wednesday 14 November. We will seek to notify successful applicants by mid- December 2018.

Further Information

For further information or any queries please email international@thebritishacademy.ac.uk.

About the Academy of Science of South Africa

ASSAf was inaugurated in May 1996. It was formed in response to the need for an Academy of Science consonant with the dawn of democracy in South Africa: activist in its mission of using science and scholarship for the benefit of society, with a mandate encompassing all scholarly disciplines that use an open-minded and evidence-based approach to build knowledge. ASSAf thus adopted in its name the term ‘science’ in the singular as reflecting a common way of enquiring rather than an aggregation of different disciplines. Its Members are elected on the basis of a combination of two principal criteria, academic excellence and significant contributions to society.

The Parliament of South Africa passed the Academy of Science of South Africa Act (Act 67 of 2001), which came into force on 15 May 2002. This made ASSAf the only academy of science in South Africa officially recognised by government and representing the country in the international community of science academies and elsewhere.

About the British Academy

The British Academy is the UK’s national body for the humanities and social sciences – the study of peoples, cultures and societies, past, present, and future. The British Academy’s purpose is to inspire and support high achievement in the humanities and social sciences throughout the UK and internationally, and to promote their public value. We have three principal roles:

  • A Fellowship of distinguished scholars from all areas of the humanities and social sciences, elected by their peers, that facilitates the exchange of knowledge and ideas and promotes the work of our subjects.
  • A Funding Body that supports the best ideas, individuals and intellectual resources in the humanities and social sciences, nationally and internationally.
  • A Forum for debate and engagement and engagement that stimulates public interest and deepens understandings, that enhances global leadership and policy making, and that acts as a voice for the humanities and social sciences.