04 October 2022 | Story Samkelo Fetile | Photo Supplied
Dr Sevias Guvurio
Dr Sevias Guvuriro.

Dr Sevias Guvuriro from the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS) is the first UFS candidate to participate in the University of Michigan African Presidential Scholarship (UMAPS) fellowship programme. Dr Guvuriro is also a member of the Future Professoriate Group participating in the Transformation of the Professoriate Programme.  

About the project 

Dr Guvuriro’s main project during his five-month stay at the University of Michigan was on hazardous drinking and economic preferences among urban youth in South Africa. The project recognises that lifestyle behaviours in early life are important drivers of chronic disease later in life, and that harmful use of alcohol is among the main risk factors for non-communicable diseases in the world. According to Dr Guvuriro, persuasive behaviour-change approaches could be useful, especially in the context of developing countries, where the World Health Organisation’s non-communicable diseases ‘Best Buys’ interventions on alcohol use could be ineffective. Behavioural economics and experimental economics techniques could also be beneficial. "With the assistance of my host, Prof Erin Krupka from the University of Michigan School of Information, academics and other staff members, I have made very strong progress in analysing my survey and experimental data on the subject, which I obtained here in South Africa,” said Dr Guvuriro.

Unpacking UMAPS 

UMAPS offers African scholars drawn from across Africa the opportunity to spend five months at the University of Michigan, working and interacting with faculty members who are leaders in their fields. Each year, applications for the fellowship open on 15 August and close on 15 October. The programme started in 2009, hosting a single cohort each year. From 2020, the programme hosted two cohorts of about 15 African scholars each. These scholars are selected annually from an application pool of about 600. 

"It was an amazing experience, one that I wish all of my colleagues in the faculty and the institution at large could have," Dr Guvuriro said. “Other than meeting the faculty staff at the University of Michigan – who are amazing – I got to meet and interact with world leaders in the economics subdiscipline of my interest.” 

He concluded by stating that this is a rare opportunity for scholars, and although competitive, he believes it is worth applying for. “Although I was the first from the UFS to attend, I know that the August to December 2022 cohort has another UFS staff member, which is great. My wish would be for our university to be represented annually.”

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