Zeit Stiftung Fellowship awarded to ACC’s Alicia Fortuin

ACC PhD candidate and research fellow Alicia Fortuin was awarded a Zeit Stiftung Fellowship. The four-month programme enables international researchers to engage with HafenCity University Hamburg faculty and students and bring their expertise to the research and teaching dealing with digital cities, smart cities, and technical innovations in civil engineering.  

What will you be working on during the fellowship?
As a Fellow, I will have the opportunity to collaborate with the City Science Lab at the University of Hamburg, where I plan to expand my knowledge of how technology-enabled tools can promote accessibility and justice in urban environments. 

During my Fellowship, I aim to improve my ability to collect and convey people’s stories and lived experiences using digital methods. I believe this skill is crucial for creating decision-making tools that can benefit planners, designers, and policymakers in local government. 

Ultimately, my goal is to apply these tools to promote equitable access to work, recreation, and cultural opportunities in African cities, focusing on sustainable mobility and mobility capital in my own research which lies at the intersection of mobility, society, technology, and urban justice. 

How do you feel about being awarded this fellowship?
I am so excited. I feel honoured and privileged to be awarded this opportunity. I am eager to connect and share my research with others in this global community.

Another aspect of this opportunity that excites me is the chance to work in this emerging digital space while maintaining ethical research practices in the real and complex urban environments in that researchers find themselves. I believe it is critical to uphold ethical standards as we explore these novel, modified research methods in the digital age.

I am excited to grow as a researcher, a scholar, a critical thinker and a writer, to share stories and help make decisions that benefit people equitably and ultimately transform society. These are all childhood dreams and I am honoured to see them come to fruition.

What do you most look forward to, to your time in Hamburg?
I am looking forward to experiencing functional and safe public transport. And also, no load shedding! 

What do you think the value is of fellowships like these, especially for emerging/early-career scholars?
This is an incredible opportunity to grow, learn, and evolve as an early career scholar. It’s important for me to gain confidence in my thinking, my ideas and identity and my voice as a scholar, particularly from the Global South. 

Fellowships like these are incredibly valuable as they allow access to resources, technologies, tools, networks, mentors, and the social infrastructure necessary for a career in academia. Exposure to new perspectives, and new ways of thinking, can broaden one’s intellectual purview and enhance one’s understanding of their field. 

These resources all help to develop careers and establish a solid foundation for early career scholars. It opens doors to new opportunities for collaboration, publication, and further funding- all vital aspects for longevity for early career scholars who might not be well-connected or well-funded at their home universities.