The Structural Transformation of African Agriculture and Rural Spaces Fellowship Programme
The University of Sussex joined The Structural Transformation of African Agriculture and Rural Spaces (STAARS) fellowship programme, as a partnering, host institution in 2022. Launched by Cornell University in 2016, the programme pursues rigorous, policy-oriented research into structural transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa, encouraging proposals in areas such as: agri-food systems transformation, and poverty dynamics and resilience against shocks.
STAARS is a collaborative and intensive programme that supports the professional development of early-career African researchers working in this field. By closely working with a small group of Fellows each year, STAARS broader, long-term goal is to help reinforce an effective policy research culture that consequently helps to develop and sustain the research capacity in Africa. More details about STAARS core themes and objectives can be found on Cornell's website.
Upon its launch in 2016, STAARS received support from various organizations and enjoys continued support from the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC). As a partnering institution, the University of Sussex Business School will further expand the STAARS community and broaden the expertise of its mentorship pool.
"We are thrilled to be joining the STAARS program, building on Sussex's decades-long tradition of working with African students and scholars" - Dr Annemie Maertens
Each Fellow is matched with a mentor from either Cornell University or the University of Sussex, to jointly author a paper on a topic relating to structural transformation in sub-Saharan Africa - previous research publications have appeared in leading, peer-reviewed journals. Professional development training is provided and the Fellows are supported in building their international research networks.
Read more about STAARS' history, its aims and its outcomes in this recently published study:‘Building research capacity in an under-represented group: The STAARS program experience.'
- STAARS Workshop
The programme included a three-week visit to Cornell University and the University of Sussex in which the Fellows presented their research work, participated in team-building activities, and met with faculty and students from the host universities.
On September 26 - 27, 2022, the STAARS workshop was held at the University's Falmer campus, led by organiser Dr Annemie Maertens. The workshop saw each fellow present on their research, as well as presentations by both Cornell and Sussex faculty, and a keynote speech by Dr Abebe Shimeles, Director of Research of the African Economic Research Consortium on 'Empirical research in Africa: challenges and opportunities for development economists.'
Of this year's six Fellows, the Sussex mentoring team supervises Muhammed Usman, John Maara and Gildas Kadoukpè Magbondé. Hear how Muhammed & Gildas found the experience at Sussex:
"amazing and unforgettable [...] I enjoyed the opportunity to meet new people while sharing research ideas, exchanging contacts, and discussing future opportunities" - Muhammed Usman
"Being at the University of Sussex as a STAARS fellow gave me a unique opportunity to present my research in progress in front of well-established researchers" - Gildas Magbondé
- Introducing the STAARS Fellows
Selection into the STAARS programme is highly competitive with up to six Fellows being selected amongst up to 150 applications each year. As a partnering host institution with Cornell, the Sussex mentoring team has supervised three of the six Fellows: Muhammed Usman, John Maara and Gildas Kadoukpè Magbondé. Learn more about their research below.
University of Bonn
Nneka Esther Osadolor
University of Ibadan
Taye Tesfaye Fisiha
Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee
University of York
Gildas Kadoukpè Magbondé
University of Cape Town
University of Nairobi
- Introducing the STAARS Mentors & Peer Mentors
Meet the University of Sussex Business School academics that mentored and peer-mentored the STAARS Fellows below.
Dr Annemie Maertens
Reader in Economics
Prof Andy McKay
Professor of Development Economics
Professor of Econometrics
Lilia Garcia Manrique
PhD Candidate in Economics
Lecturer in Economics
Lecturer in Economics
- Further Information
To learn more about STAARS, visit the University of Cornell's website.
Read the STAARS Research Proposal Call for information on applications.