Patrick French was appointed as the inaugural Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Ahmedabad University in 2017. He holds an additional position as Professor for the Public Understanding of the Humanities, advocating for their importance in a well-rounded education. Professor French is an award-winning historian, biographer and political analyst, and has a PhD in South Asian Studies and an MA in English and American Literature, both from the University of Edinburgh. In 2016-18, he was a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH) at Cambridge University, and in 2018 he was the Derek Brewer Visiting Fellow at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He has held visiting positions at Ashoka University, the University of Warwick, University of the South Pacific, NYU Abu Dhabi and University of Pennsylvania.
His books have been translated into more than a dozen languages (see Publications) and have won awards including the Hawthornden Prize, the Royal Society of Literature WH Heinemann Prize, the US National Book Critics Circle Award, the Somerset Maugham Award and the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award. He has been a finalist for the James Tait Black Prize for Biography, the Longman-History Today Book of the Year Award and the BBC FOUR Samuel Johnson Prize (now the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction). He is presently writing the authorised biography of the novelist Doris Lessing, following a competitive process of appointment. Much of his work has focussed on political and social analysis of India in the decades directly before and after independence in 1947, and the period following economic ‘liberalisation’ in the 1990s.
At the School of Arts and Sciences, Professor French has promoted interdisciplinary teaching and research, and has extended the scope of courses to cover Indian and South Asian intellectual traditions in the humanities and social sciences. Under his leadership, the School has launched a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science Honours programme, alongside an Integrated Masters in Life Sciences, and innovative Majors specialising in History, Economics, Psychology, Physics and Computer Science, as well as original Majors in Social and Political Sciences (SPS), and in Philosophy, History and Languages (PHL). In addition, they offer a PhD programme in Physics, in Life Sciences and in Humanities and Social Sciences. Since 2017, the School of Arts and Sciences has hosted more than 100 eminent academic and public policy specialists from across India and the world, ranging from ground-breaking young scholars to Nobel laureates. Professor French puts a particular emphasis on academic distinction, on a commitment to mentorship for students and faculty, and to advancing the research and local public value of the School in order to connect with the communities it serves.
Selected Book Publications
Selected Other Publications