Chat with Professor Workineh Kelbessa

Professor Workineh Kelbessa is a Professor of Philosophy at Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia. Professor Kelbessa was a 2020/21 AfOx Senior Visiting Fellow at the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics and the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Oxford, as part of the Africa Oxford Initiative's Senior Visiting Fellowship Programme. He shares his fellowship experience.


What expectations did you have when you were applying for the AfOx senior visiting fellowship program?

I expected to publish journal articles, present papers, and actively engage with staff, students, and visiting researchers. I also expected to attend seminars and conferences and collaborate with fellow academics. The program far exceeded my expectations.

How would you describe your experience here in Oxford as an AfOx Visiting Fellow?

I was hosted by the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics and the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Oxford. During my time at Oxford, my host and other colleagues supported my research and I have learnt a lot from their work and advice. Through the AfOx Visiting Fellowship program, I wrote new papers and revised and published old papers. I also presented my research at different international conferences.  

I was invited by the United Nations University Centre for Policy Research (UNU-CPR) and the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) to write a paper on environmental ethics. My paper focused on “Environmental Ethics and Policy.” My paper is part of the book Reimagining the Human-Environment Relationship for Stockholm+50.

All of these things are nearly impossible to do with teaching assignments in Ethiopia.

What have been your highlights here in Oxford?

My highlights in Oxford include being invited to speak at the AfOx Digital Insaka and the public lecture organized by Torch and the AfOx on March 4, 2022, and June 21, 2022, respectively. Also, being invited to contribute to the United Nations University Centre for Policy Research (UNU-CPR) and the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), making academic links with Professors and networking with various researchers. My other highlights were publishing articles and book chapters and attending several lectures and conferences. Also, I visited various organizations and individuals involved with environmental issues. Most importantly, I was able to share my research with academics at Oxford University.

Overall, What impact has the AfOx Senior Fellowship programme had on your work?

The AfOx Visiting Fellowship Programme enabled me to participate in various public lectures and conferences held at different departments and schools of Oxford University and outside the UK. It has allowed me to present papers, deliver lectures, and collaborate with various scholars. I have had access to the rich resources of the University of Oxford, published some articles and book chapters on various subjects. I have managed to buy valuable books, design new research projects, meet some colleagues including my PhD supervisor at Cardiff University, and many others. I have benefitted greatly from Professors who read some of my articles and made very useful comments and suggestions. Overall, my research at Oxford University has been a successful academic journey, in line with my academic and professional expectations.

How do you plan to utilise the Oxford experience in your work?

I am working to establish Addis Ababa University (AAU) more firmly in the global academic community. I am sharing the knowledge I have gained at Oxford University with my Ethiopian colleagues and my students, teach graduate students, and supervise their work. I am working to further develop my own research into global ethics, development ethics, and environmental ethics.