A 6-year, fully-funded PhD fellowship in Indian Ocean World and Middle Eastern Environmental History / Iowa State University — LIMITE : 15/12/2018

Iowa State University’s PhD program in Rural, Agricultural, Technological and Environmental (RATE) History invites applications for a 6-year, fully-funded PhD fellowship in Indian Ocean World and Middle Eastern Environmental History. Iowa State University is a partner with McGill University’s Indian Ocean World Centre and an international team of nearly two dozen universities and centers across the globe. Our partnership project, “Appraising Risk, Past and Present: Interrogating Historical Data to Enhance Understanding of Environmental Crises in the Indian Ocean World,” has been awarded a 2.5 million-dollar (Canadian) partnership grant by the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). Historians, anthropologists, and social and environmental scientists will examine the social, economic, and political impacts of natural disasters across the world’s most populous and unstable macro-region, stretching from East Africa, Arabia, and the Persian Gulf to India, Southeast Asia, and China. By examining past and present patterns of natural hazards from epidemic disease, monsoon failure, and drought to tsunamis, volcanic activity, and global climate change, this project seeks to better understand how the societies of the Indian Ocean world have adapted to environmental risk across time.

In support of this project and the partnership’s Middle East team, Iowa State University seeks a PhD student in Environmental History with one or more of the following research interests and skills:

  • Geographical Foci: Late Ottoman Empire, the Modern Middle East, the Arabian Peninsula, the Persian Gulf, South Asia, and/or trans-regional projects connecting the Middle East with other regions in the Western Indian Ocean, including East Africa and South Asia
  • Time Period: 18th-Late 20th centuries
  • Language Skills: We are especially interested in receiving applications from students with native fluency or advanced competencies in Turkish/Ottoman Turkish, Arabic, Persian, and/or South Asian languages. However, we also welcome research interests based on English and European colonial archival sources.
  • The accepted student will be expected to work closely with Dr. Michael Christopher Low, Assistant Professor and Partnership Coordinator. In addition to the normal requirements of the PhD program, the accepted student will be expected to assist with Iowa State’s contributions to the McGill-SSHRC partnership project. Dr. Low will serve as this student’s primary advisor and oversee his or her work in support of the partnership. For a description of Low’s research and teaching interests, please see: https://history.iastate.edu/directory/michael-christopher-low/

What We Offer:

As part of this prestigious international grant project and generously funded fellowship, the prospective student will receive the following package of support:

  • With generous support from the ISU Department of History, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the Office of the Vice President, this fellowship will provide six years of guaranteed funding (dependent on satisfactory progress to degree).
  • The student will receive an annual stipend of approximately $25,000 (12-month appointment).
  • Health insurance
  • Tuition Waver

Unique Benefits Provided by the McGill-SSHRC Partnership Grant:

In addition to the financial support provided by Iowa State University, the prospective student will also gain exclusive access to a unique array of partnership opportunities. We expect these activities and resources to include:

  • Research collaboration with partner universities and centers in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, France, Germany, Indonesia, the Netherlands, Tanzania, Turkey, the United Kingdom
  • Access to databases and digitized archival sources from McGill University’s Indian Ocean World Centre
  • Summer research funding opportunities
  • Funded participation in international summer schools hosted by partners on four continents
  • Publication opportunities (including journals, edited books, working papers, and podcasts)
  • Opportunities for funded conference travel
  • Institutional affiliations and office space at select partner universities
  • Access to mentoring from internationally renowned scholars at our partner institutions

For More Information:

For further information on the partnership and fellowship application procedures, please contact:

Michael Christopher Low
Assistant Professor, Department of History
McGill-SSHRC Partnership Coordinator
Faculty Profile: https://history.iastate.edu/directory/michael-christopher-low/
Email: low@iastate.edu

For more information about the Iowa State University Department of History, please visit:


For more information about our RATE PhD program, please visit:


For more information on McGill University’s Indian Ocean World Centre and the Partnership project, please visit:


How To Apply:

For admission to the PhD program, please fill out all application materials required by the Iowa State Graduate College and Office of Admissions. To apply, please visit:


  • All applicants will be required to submit GRE scores to the Iowa State Graduate College (the specialized History GRE is not required).
  • All applicants whose native language is not English must take the TOEFL examination and submit that score to the Iowa State Graduate College. A TOEFL Paper (PBT) score of at least 600, TOEFL Internet (iBT) score of at least 100, or IELTS score of at least 7.0 is expected to merit consideration for admittance to the program.
  • Applications to the Graduate College and Office of Admissions must include a personal statement explaining your reasons for wishing to enter graduate school, outlining your scholarly interests, and describing their appropriateness for this fellowship.
  • Three letters of recommendation are required. Recommenders should be able to evaluate your ability to engage in advanced historical research and analysis in your area of study. Applicants may submit letters of recommendation via the Graduate College and Office of Admissions or directly to the Director of Graduate Education, Michael Bailey: mdbailey@iastate.edu.
  • All applicants must submit a writing sample of no more than 25 pages of representative academic work with their application or send it directly to the Director of Graduate Education, Michael Bailey: mdbailey@iastate.edu.

All application materials must be submitted no later than December 15, 2018Please note that this date differs from the deadline for normal applications to the Iowa State University RATE PhD program.

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