William A. Brown Research Award

Submit application

Submit advisor approval form

Applications and advisor approval forms are due Wed, Feb 14 at 11:59 PM CST.

This award is intended to support research on Islam or West African history. Funds must be used to advance research; recipients may propose to use this award for travel, archival work, or as direct support for writing.

Graduate students in good standing from any department or program who are engaged in the study of Islam or West African history.

Award Details
Awardees may receive up to $4000. Award recipients must submit a photograph, brief bio, and a brief report on their work within one year of receiving funding. This information will be displayed on our website.

Application Details
Applicants should submit a 1-2 page project proposal, budget, and C.V./resume as a single PDF via the online application portal.

Students should seek input from their advisors prior to submission. The student must list the name and email address of their advisor in their application, and the advisor must submit an approval form before the deadline.

Applications will be evaluated by an interdisciplinary faculty committee and award decisions will be returned by April 1.

Reports from 2022 class:

Jibril Gabid 

About the Advisor Approval Form
This form replaces the need for a formal letter of recommendation and should take no more than 5  minutes to complete and  is designed to achieve three goals:

  • To encourage students to discuss their proposals with their advisors prior to submission;
  • To ensure that student proposals are evaluated on their own merit instead of on the merits of  recommendation letters; and
  • To reduce administrative burdens.

Award Disbursement and Timing
International students with non-resident alien status must be paid through payroll. Taxes will be withheld (~18% withholding rate for most students).

All other students will receive their award via the Bursar’s Office scholarship system. The award will first be applied towards the student’s outstanding balance, if any (for example: unpaid tuition or segregated fees, library fines, etc. Learn more here.). Remaining funds will be disbursed in accordance with the award recipient’s Student Center payment preferences.

Funds will be released within 30 days of award acceptance.

About William A. Brown (1934-2007)
William was born on January 29, 1934 in Beauford, North Carolina, where he attended DeWitt Clinton High School prior to joining the Air Force. On leaving the Air Force, he enrolled in Kentucky State University, where he majored in History, Government, French Language and Literature; graduating with highest distinction as valedictorian in 1959. He was then awarded a Fulbright grant to attend the Universitè de Sorbonne in Paris, where he again led his class.

Upon completing his studies in France, he entered the University of Wisconsin-Madison to study African history and Islamic studies. At Wisconsin, he was awarded a number of fellowships, including: a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, National Defense Foreign Language Fellowship in Arabic, and a Foreign Area Fellowship for Africa. He conducted research in Mali from 1965-66 for his doctoral dissertation, “The Caliphate of Humdullahi, ca. 1818-1864: A Study in African History and Tradition,” which he submitted to Wisconsin in 1969 and remains the authoritative study of the area.

Prof. Brown started his teaching career at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria and subsequently held positions at Yale University, Harvard University, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, from which he retired as Emeritus Professor in 2006. He received research grants from the Ford Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, The American Council of Learned Societies, The American Philosophical Society , and he published “ Toward a Chronology for the Caliphate of Hamdullah,” Cahiers D’ etudes Africanines; “ A New Bio-bibliographical Aid; ‘ The Izalat Al-Rayb’ of Muhammad Boul Araf” and “Nasiwal Asudan”: A Guide to Legal History in Mali,” both in the Research bulletin Center of Arabic Documentation, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; and Great Rulers of the African Past. Prof. Brown also organized the first conference on Black Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1967 that resulted in the publication of S. Henderson and M. Cook (eds.), The Militant Black Writer in the U.S. and Africa.

This award celebrates Prof. Brown’s memory. Funding to support this annual award comes from the friends and former students of Prof. Brown. You can also honor the legacy of this scholar by making a donation to the UW Foundation William A. Brown Memorial Lecture Fund – 132016041

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