BLOEMFONTEIN, 29 JULY 2020: The University of the Free State is pleased to announce that the Human Sciences Research Council’s (HSRC) Prof Ivan Turok has been awarded a research chair by the South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI). Prof Turok is one of South Africa’s most cited social scientists. He will hold the Research Chair in City-Region Economies in the Department of Economics and Finance and the Centre for Development Support at the UFS. The UFS is now home to six SARChI chairs.
The research chair is the first partnership of its kind between a South African university and the HSRC. The chair will seek to understand how cities can accelerate economic growth and inclusive development in SA. It will analyse why some cities are more successful than others, and what policies and practices can improve conditions for citizens and communities. It will also provide funding to increase research capacity through the appointment of postdoctoral, PhD, and master’s students.
SARChI is a government intervention aimed at strengthening the scientific research and innovation capacity of South African universities. It was established by the Department of Science and Technology in 2006 and is managed by the National Research Foundation (NRF). According to the NRF, its prestigious research chair is awarded to established researchers who are recognised internationally for their research contributions.
“Prof Turok’s appointment as Research Chair is a great honour for the university. He is a highly rated researcher and his knowledge of city-region economies will be of exceptional value to the university’s research portfolio, as well as to the country’s agenda of transforming urban areas. Our country is in dire need of research in this area, in which Prof Turok will be playing a significant role,” said Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS.
According to Prof Lochner Marais, Head of the UFS Centre for Development Support, the research chair will have four main themes: The Urban System – Demographics and Economics; Economic Sectors in Space; Dynamic Places; and Strategic Urban Assets. The chair brings together research from the Departments of Economics and Finance, Urban and Regional Planning, and the Centre for Development Support. The long-term goal is to develop the chair into a centre of excellence.
“The chair is co-funded by the South African Cities Network. All research will speak directly to the South African Cities Network’s agenda of transforming urban areas in the country,” Prof Marais adds.
In congratulating Prof Turok, the CEO of the Human Sciences Research Council, Prof Crain Soudien, said, “It is fitting that this research chair has been awarded to Prof Turok. It is a culmination of many years of work in the area of city regions through which he has earned a sterling reputation as a scholar in this area of work.”
Prof Turok has authored more than 150 peer-reviewed publications and 11 books/monographs. He holds an NRF B1-rating and is the former Editor-in-Chief of the top international journal, Regional Studies. He is currently Executive Director: Economic Performance and Development at the Human Sciences Research Council and was Chairman of the Durban City Planning Commission. He was formerly Professor of Urban Economic Development, and Director of Research: Department of Urban Studies at the University of Glasgow. Prof Turok was also a Mellon Fellow at the University of Cape Town and Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Strathclyde. He is an occasional adviser to the United Nations, OECD, African Development Bank, UNECA, and several national governments. His recent books include Transitions in Regional Economic Development (2018, Routledge), Value Chains in Sub-Saharan Africa (2019, Springer), and Restoring the Core: Central City Decline and Transformation in the South (2020, Elsevier). He has a PhD in Economics from the University of Reading.
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