SSRC Next Gen Program Celebrates 75 PhDs

May 1, 2018

Dear colleagues,

We pause and celebrate a significant milestone in the work that we do. Today we learned news of our 75th fellow to be awarded a PhD from an African university.

The SSRC Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa program has supported 233 scholars in Africa to make progress through a PhD in the social sciences. In the next few weeks we will announce another cohort of approximately fifty fellows studying at African universities.

The fellows we have supported to completion already are making an enormous contribution to their universities, to global research, and also to the local communities of which they are a part.

They teach and mentor new generations of researchers and students, ensuring that the benefits of this program cascade for decades to come. They shed new light on social harms – not least environmental degradation in oil producing regions, gender-based violence in rural communities, and the toll facing communities that are dispossessed of land and housing.

Our fellows also have made extraordinary contributions to ameliorating these harms. Richard Mbunda (2013-15) has worked to transform foodways in Tanzania by building a community of activists committed to achieving food sovereignty. Steve Akoth (2012-13) has argued successfully for the Supreme Court of Kenya to grant residents of informal settlements rights to claim compensation for the labor they invest in their makeshift dwellings when these are destroyed to make way for industry. Noleen Leach (2015-2016) has developed a degree program to train paralegals in South Africa to empower community members who cannot afford legal representation. This is only a snapshot, scarcely a full reckoning of our fellows’ contributions to social change.

In strengthening higher education and supporting scholarship, the work we do is slow and incremental. The dividends are sometimes subtle at first glance. Yet the change we support through this work is durable, life altering, and essential.

With best wishes,

Tom Asher

Program Director

Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa