About the Fund

The Field Museum/IDP Foundation, Inc. African Training Fund supports a collaboration between Field Museum scientists working in Africa and the IDP Foundation, Inc to improve training opportunities for African scientists working in the natural sciences.  The program consists of support for Africans pursuing university-level education in African institutions, as well as support for their research programs.  Often, such support will be in association with Field Museum's programs in Africa.  This collaboration represents only one of Field Museum's programs in Africa (see also the Field Museum's Council on Africa) and is but one of the African programs of the IDP Foundation.
To help promote the development of highly trained African scientists, the Museum will work with its partners at prominent African universities to offer up to ten scholarships to African undergraduate and graduate students studying biology, anthropology, botany, geology, biochemistry, molecular biology or other fields related to the natural sciences.  Students selected for a scholarship will each receive an annual bursary from The Field Museum/IDP Foundation, Inc. African Training Fund to fully cover their university costs.  We anticipate the scholarships to commence in January 2010. 


These special scholarships are only available to talented but impoverished African students who could not otherwise afford to attend university.  The Museum maintains active partnerships with dozens of African and international scientific organizations –from the Kenya Wildlife Service and TAWIRI, to WCS-Tanzania and BirdLife International – which can help to identify potential students.  Prospective students will be invited to apply directly to the Museum for a scholarship.  A panel of senior Field Museum scientists will review the applications and choose the finalists based on their commitment to the natural sciences, potential for advancing science in their country, and overall need.
There is still much to be learned about cultural and biological diversity in Africa.  In many parts of the continent, scientists continue to discover new species and are only beginning to unravel complex ecological relationships.  However, habitat fragmentation and attendant loss of indigenous knowledge has been especially detrimental for initiating homegrown solutions to Africa’s problems.  Capacity building among Africa’s professionals is essential if its biological and cultural riches are to be conserved. 


To this end, The Field Museum/IDP Foundation, Inc. African Training Fund will also encompass a competitive awards program aimed at promoting collaborative research between scientists at the Field Museum and at African institutions.  Each June, Field Museum staff working in Africa will be invited to apply for funding to support special research projects, such as bird studies in Malawi, conservation training workshops in Kenya, or botanical studies in Madagascar.  These programs will be required to have a significant training component for African collaborators, with preference given to supporting workshops, training sessions, or internships that are part of a larger Field Museum research program.
Since its founding in 1893, The Field Museum has focused its talents, resources and expertise on Africa.  The Museum became the first American museum to sponsor a major expedition to Africa, and did so only three years after its founding (D.G. Elliot and Carl Akeley to British Somaliland, 1896).  Museum scientists are currently collaborating with individuals and organizations in many African countries.  A map of the continent showing the foci of their recent efforts appears above.
Bruce Patterson,
May 14, 2009, 2:05 PM