WITS School of Governance (Post-doc scholarship in Johannesburg)

Post-doc scholarships in Johannesburg: "Life in the City"

Wits University Life in the City: Understanding complexity and rapid change to create better and sustainable livelihoods for the people of Johannesburg.

Johannesburg and Gauteng are grappling with a daunting set of policy challenges such as migrancy, poverty, unemployment, uneven levels of economic growth, financialisation of the economy, informality, inequity, violence, high levels of protest, informal settlements, aging infrastructure, changing economic base and service delivery. The problems that these conditions produce and reproduce make Johannesburg an ideal ‘laboratory’ for a project combining different disciplines and methodological approaches to find solutions to these complex challenges, ranging from helth to engineering, humanities to the built environment, governance to economics, and beyond. Wits University is uniquely placed to make genuine inroads into addressing these challenges. The Life in the City project looks to build on existing strengths within the institution, and on the strengths of a network of partnerships, to develop a holistic and multidisciplinary body of work to create the conditions for a city that is inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. It also seeks to deepen relations between Johannesburg and Wits. The focus and purpose of the Life in the City project is to invest substantial University resources into high-quality PhD and post-doctoral students, working across disciplines, to develop a deeper understanding of the challenges facing the City and possible solutions. Given that the task of addressing complex societal problems is incommensurate with the problem-solving potential of a single academic discipline, this project applies a multi/transdisciplinary focus to social problems. By bringing together multiple theoretical lenses and disciplinary perspectives, it will be possible to provide a unique and holistic perspective of complex systems. Taking this approach places the management of synergies at the heart of the project. In response, Wits has allocated a substantial sum of money to fund PhD and post-doctoral research with two criteria: (a) the research must be multi/trans/anti disciplinary, and (b) it must tackle a ‘real world’ issue in greater Johannesburg. Proposals will be judged on merit, insight, focus and methodology. 

Wits University Life in the City: Understanding complexity and rapid change to create better and sustainable livelihoods for the people of Johannesburg.   Call for Proposals, this call is for proposals for innovative, transdisciplinary research, grounded in real world challenges facing Johannesburg. Generous grants will be made available to successful applicants. These will cover fees, and thereafter will be paid in monthly instalments. No additional funds will be available from the WSG or project. Proposals should demonstrate original contributions to intellectual and/or policy debates and break new theoretical and/or empirical ground. Research should help formulate innovative solutions to issues such as inequality, exclusion and marginalisation, as well as sustainability, urban policy, race and xenophobia, the built environment and so on, through transdisciplinary approaches. Proposals should include the following sections  

  • Research focus and background  
  • Research problem  
  • Research questions
  • Research aim   
  • Merit of the research and proposed contribution to the field  
  • Proposed research methodology
  • Research plan  

Please submit a brief proposal (5-15 pages), a letter of endorsement from your supervisor/s, CV and other documents you deem appropriate for the committee to see (e.g. journal articles, etc.) to no later than c.o.b. June 30th 2017

Further information: For any queries please contact Simone Smit on +27 11 717 3855 or

Wits reserves the right not to make any awards  

The Life in the City project is hosted and run by the Wits School of Governance PhD and Post-doctoral Scholarships for Multi/ Trans/Anti-disciplinary Research


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