Patrick French was appointed as the inaugural Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Ahmedabad in the Summer of 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 and biographer, 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 was the Derek Brewer Visiting Fellow at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he is a Member.
Patrick French has previously worked in policy and strategic analysis, and has lectured at institutions including the RAND Corporation, Chatham House, Brookings, the Council of Councils, Asia Society, the Royal Geographical Society, the Royal Society of Arts, and the Universities of Oxford, Zurich, Warwick, Harvard, Columbia, Johns Hopkins, Pennsylvania, LSE IDEAS, Jamia Millia Islamia, Ashoka, West Indies and South Pacific.
His books have won prizes including the Somerset Maugham Award, the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award, the Hawthornden Prize, the Royal Society of Literature WH Heinemann Prize, and the US National Book Critics Circle Award. They have been published in over a dozen languages, and include Younghusband: The Last Great Imperial Adventurer; Liberty or Death: India’s Journey to Independence and Division; Tibet, Tibet: A Personal History of a Lost Land; The World Is What It Is: The Authorized Biography of V.S. Naipaul; and India: A Portrait. He is presently researching the official biography of the Nobel Laureate Doris Lessing.
Since becoming Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, Professor French has placed a particular emphasis on interdisciplinary teaching and research, and on extending the scope of courses to cover Indian and South Asian intellectual traditions. Alongside the Integrated Masters and PhD programme in Life Sciences, the School now runs Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science programmes, offering specialisations in History, Economics, Psychology, Physics and Computer Science, and innovative Majors in Social and Political Sciences, and in Philosophy, History and Languages. The Seminar and Lecture Series has brought in more than 50 eminent academic and public policy specialists from India and internationally.