Release Date: 31 October, 2018

Call for Applications


ISTR/WITS Africa PhD Seminar
Wits Business School
Johannesburg, South Africa
PhD Seminar: May 14-15, 2019
Conference on Philanthropy: May 16-17, 2019

Call for Applications

The International Society for Third Sector Research (ISTR) and the Africa Centre for Philanthropy and Social Investment at Wits Business School will co-host a PhD Seminar for approximately 20 PhD students at all stages of their doctoral research in topics related to the Third Sector, i.e., civil society, the nonprofit sub-sector, philanthropy, social economy, social investment, venture philanthropy, corporate social investment and volunteerism, among others.     

The PhD Seminar is scheduled for May 14-15, 2019 prior to the first annual Conference on Philanthropy, organized by the Wits Business School’s Centre for Philanthropy and Social Investment in collaboration with the Center for African Studies at Harvard University, TrustAfrica and Africa Philanthropy Forum on May 16-17, 2019.  The conference will be held at the WBS school. The conference will address themes that include private sector giving, impact investing, sustainable development goals, philanthropy, civil society and various other topics.  PhD Seminar students are required to attend the conference.

About the PhD Seminar
ISTR hosts regular PhD Seminars in conjunction with its biennial international conferences and also at the regional level in the alternate years. The ISTR/WITS Africa PhD Seminar is open to all doctoral students in the field of third sector and civil society research, in all African countries, and at all stages of their doctoral research. The aim of the workshop is to provide doctoral students with the opportunity to receive extensive intellectual and methodological advice on their doctoral research from peers and scholars, to introduce them to main theories and developments in the field, to reflect upon publication and career strategies, and to provide an opportunity to network with scholars within the international ISTR research community.

The core of the seminar will focus on the research of the individual students. Applicants submit an abstract outlining their doctoral topic, state of the art, methodology, and methods intended to be applied for his or her research project. During the seminar, the students´ research projects are intensively discussed in parallel small working groups.  Participants will be grouped thematically, but the group composition will be heterogeneous in terms of concrete research topics, disciplinary background, research stage, method, and regional affiliation.

The seminar will also include workshops with presentations on professional development topics by leading scholars.

Application guidelines – Deadline December 15, 2018
Approximately 20 doctoral students will be accepted.  Students must be currently enrolled in a university and must be able to attend the entire PhD Seminar and Philanthropy Conference.  The PhD Seminar will start in the morning on May 14, 2019 and conclude in the afternoon of May 15, 2019.  The Conference on Philanthropy begins the next morning on May 16, 2017 and concludes the afternoon of May 17, 2019.  If traveling from out of town, participants are expected to arrive the evening of May 13, 2019 and depart the evening of May 17, 2019 or the next morning as flights require.

ISTR/WITS will cover the cost of shared room accommodation for the PhD Seminar and the Conference on Philanthropy and meals during both events.  Limited travel support is available to supplement support the student’s university can provide. ISTR will grant accepted students 2019 membership in ISTR with all of the associated benefits. Accepted students must attend the Conference on Philanthropy (attendance is free of charge). Past participants of ISTR Seminars are welcome to apply to participate.

To apply, please complete the online form here before the December 15 deadline:

All applications must include the following information:

  • Full name and gender
  • Contact details (including e-mail and phone number)
  • Disciplinary background
  • Institutional affiliation and name(s) of the supervisor(s)
  • Working title of PhD project and formal start/end dates
  • Indication of the stage of your research
  • Abstract of PhD research (min. 500 – max. 800 words). The abstract must include: research questions, theoretical framework, methods, and results if already applicable
  • Feedback needed on your PhD research
  • Letter from your faculty advisor/department head providing 1) information about the quality of the candidate, 2) specific information about how participation in the PhD seminar would benefit your doctoral studies, and 3) a statement of financial support the university is able to provide in support of your participation in the PhD Seminar.
  • A brief description (100-150 words) of your motivation to participate in the ISTR PhD Seminar
  • Research Keywords

ISTR/WITS will consider all applications that are complete and meet the eligibility criteria. In line with ISTR’s mission to build a global community of scholars and subscribe to the values of diversity and pluralism, participants in the ISTR/WITS Africa PhD Seminar will be representative in terms of gender and region, as well as disciplines and stages in the PhD process.

For further inquiries, please contact

Megan Haddock, ISTR:
Katiana Ramsamy, WITS:

Selected applicants will be notified by January 15, 2019.