The University Staff Doctorate Programme (USDP) is a programme by the South African Department of Higher Education (DHET) which aims to develop collaborative professional development opportunities for staff in higher education institutions in South Africa and the United States. It consists of several projects each with a different thematic or disciplinary focus.
ACDI is leading a USDP project which brings together South African and United States universities to help transform South African academic expertise relating to ‘Climate risk, resilience, and sustainable development’ (2018 – 2023).
The partnership includes the University of Cape Town, University of Fort Hare and University of Venda from South Africa, and the University of Arizona and Penn State University from the United States.
The project aims to support 10 high calibre South African university staff (of which 80% will be black and/or women) to obtain PhDs in fields related to climate risk, resilience and sustainable development, and applied to a South African context. These 10 candidates will be selected from University of Cape Town, University of Fort Hare and University of Venda staff.
The cohort of PhD candidates will be supported via a structured programme, including:
An annual summer school that maps onto the needs of a PhD student and emerging academic
Time abroad at a United States partner university (University of Arizona and Penn State University)
Funding (ZAR 70 000) to support tuition and research costs
Interdisciplinary and inter-institutional co-supervision and expert advice
This holistic model ensures that university staff are not only obtaining a qualification within the required four years, but building skills for quality teaching, research impact, collaboration and innovation that ensure academic excellence that contributes to addressing South Africa’s development challenges. The participating staff are invited to intersect their discipline with the broad theme of ‘Climate risk, resilience, and sustainable development’. That includes, but is not limited to the following research areas:
Governance, law and public administration
Climate science and services
Water resources and security
Public and environmental health
Renewable energy and mitigation
Ecosystems, natural resource management and ecosystem-based adaptation