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With support from the Mellon Foundation, AUW to soon launch a Humanities major

Posted on July 8, 2022

Written by AUW

Chattogram, Bangladesh, July 8, 2022 – Thanks to a grant of $1 million from the Mellon Foundation, Asian University for Women (AUW) is planning to launch a new Humanities major for undergraduate studies at the University.  The Mellon grant, together with support from other sources, will enable AUW to enlist nine post-doctoral fellows to design and teach this new Humanities initiative.  The Humanities major will comprise studies in Literature, History, Philosophy and Comparative Religion.  Unlike the existing majors at AUW, the Humanities major would be only available to students who also co-major in one of the natural sciences or mathematics offerings at AUW and produce a thesis that bridges knowledge from both the Humanities and the scientific fields.  Kamal Ahmad, AUW’s Founder noted that “Too often Humanities have been viewed as a purview of the leisure class.  At AUW we think of Humanities as at the core of all of our existence.  Our sense of imagination, joy, dignity and an unsevered will are all rooted in the Humanities.  By studying history, literature, philosophy and religion in a systematic way, the AUW community will strengthen both its intellectual breadth but also more rigorously examine the fundamental questions that affect our society.  We are grateful to the Mellon Foundation for so generously supporting AUW in these endeavors.”

New leadership at AUW is adding an astonishing breadth of expertise in the humanities at this invigorating moment. Joining as Vice Chancellor of AUW in February of 2022, Rubana Huq brings a humanities perspective to the University’s helm with her PhD in English literature from Jadavpur University, and her career as an accomplished poet in addition to her success in business. David Taylor also joined AUW in 2022 as the Dean of Humanities and is leading AUW’s new Humanities Program through its first year. David Taylor previously acted as the longtime Director of the Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilizations at Aga Khan University, and holds a PhD in Political Science from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London with a focus on South Asian history and politics. Rubana Huq and David Taylor have spearheaded the humanities initiative and share an optimistic vision for the future role of the humanities at AUW:

“The Humanities program at AUW will provide the foundation to discover and understand the human experience. Through the Humanities program, scholars will gain meaningful insights and will plan with creativity and reason. We hope that the humanities scholars at AUW will strive to preserve the past, understand the realities of today and use the knowledge to shape tomorrow.”

– Rubana Huq, Vice Chancellor of AUW

“To study the humanities is to share in the hopes and aspirations of peoples across the world and across the centuries. It is to understand that the human mind, individually and collectively, can produce radically different worldviews, forms of social organisation at all levels from family to nation, and ways of relating to the natural world. Students of the humanities learn that it is important to understand the past and present in order to build a better future for themselves and all the inhabitants of planet earth.”

– David Denis Taylor, Dean of Humanities at AUW

AUW is gratified to be partnering with institutions and outstanding scholars of the Humanities worldwide in support of the program. Sunil Amrith, the Renu and Anand Dhawan Professor of History at Yale University, has taken a key role in envisioning a Humanities program and its integral role at AUW:

“AUW’s new Humanities Program is an inspired effort to harness the power of the humanities to enhance AUW’s commitment to educating future leaders. The program will foster intercultural understanding by expanding students’ imaginations; it will instill in them a sense of how history shapes the present; it will help them to develop lifelong skills that could not be more vital: critical intelligence, clarity of expression, and deep empathy. It gives me hope to see AUW embrace this bold new initiative at a time of such strife and suffering in the region, and all around the world.”

– Sunil Amrith, Professor of History at Yale University

The selected post-doc fellows will be named as Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellows in the Humanities at AUW.  In addition to the fellowships, the awardees will receive support for research, travel, and will be mentored by a senior academic from their field.  They will be based on the AUW Campus in Chittagong where furnished faculty housing will be available.  There will be options to seek appointment as Assistant Professors at AUW following the completion of the fellowship period.  Those interested in the positions should send a copy of their CV with a cover letter along with a teaching statement, a research statement, and a sample course description and syllabus to

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship in the Humanities at AUW

Asian University for Women (AUW), an independent international residential university located in Chittagong, Bangladesh with students from nearly 20 countries is seeking extraordinary scholars with recent PhDs from top global institutions in the fields of History, Literature, Philosophy, or Comparative Religious Studies to serve as Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellows.  The fellowships are funded by a grant from Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The appointments, based in Chittagong, will be for two years on completion of which the Fellows may be considered for appointment as Assistant Professors.

We seek candidates who are rooted in their disciplines and at the same time passionate about the potential of interdisciplinary work; who can inspire students with an understanding of the relationship of theory and practice in understanding the world; who can engage creatively with the students to understand multiple forms of oppression and resistance, whether through written texts or through religious practices. Past courses taught at AUW include Literature of Social Reflection; Banned Books; Shakespeare; Literature as Resistance to Oppression; Poetry of Faiz, Darwish, and Neruda; Greek Tragedies; History of Empires; South Asian History; South East Asian History; Women’s History; History of Those Without History; Labor Movement History; History of Industrialization; Socially Engaged Buddhism; Asexuality in Contemporary Global Fiction; and Islam and Gender.

Fellows in History will most likely have interests in topics that relate to hegemony and resistance; in  Literature in postcolonial and comparative literature; in Comparative Religion in people’s lived religious experience, for example sufism, rather than textual analysis; in Philosophy in moral philosophy, philosophy of science and critical theory.

The Andrew W. Mellon Fellows will work as a team with the Dean of Humanities and colleagues in Bangladesh and internationally to develop a Humanities major at AUW.

Vacancies: Nine

Areas of interest: History, Literature, Philosophy and Comparative Religious Studies

Employment Status: Full-time contractual

Job Location: Chittagong, Bangladesh

Job Context: Developing AUW’s capacity to teach the humanities from an Asian perspective and to generate fresh and exciting ideas

Core Responsibilities:

  • Research and publication in the applicant’s area of specialization
  • Teaching two courses per term (four per year).
  • Program development
  • Other duties as assigned by Dean of Humanities

Qualifications and Experience Required:

  • Doctorate from recognized university in relevant field
  • Demonstrated ability to think and work outside disciplinary boundaries
  • Experience of working in a liberal arts environment in a well-established university or college
  • Excellent command of spoken and written English
  • Experience of working in a multicultural environment with excellent communication skills
  • Appropriate IT skills
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and capacity to work collaboratively, build constructive partnerships and to engage in effective teamwork
  • Ability to represent the University in a professional manner and to communicate effectively and persuasively

Female candidates are strongly encouraged to apply.

Andrew W. Mellon Fellowships will come with funds for research and travel. Each Andrew W. Mellon Fellow will have the opportunity to continue his or her research and to identify a mentor to work with them. Selected candidates will receive a salary of $30,000 per annum, tax-free in Bangladesh (except for Bangladeshi citizens) plus free housing and access to meals at the AUW dining halls at no cost. Local transportation between the residential accommodation and the campus runs on a regular schedule.

Candidates with spouses who have similar intellectual pedigrees and interests are encouraged to apply. Similarly, candidates with particular connections or interests in the region are emphatically encouraged to apply.

Start Date: 1 July 2023. Earlier or later start dates are negotiable.

Application Deadline: Applications should be submitted by January 15, 2023.

To Apply:

Interested applicants should send their CVs along with a Cover Letter detailing how their qualifications, skills, abilities and experience meet the specific requirements of the role, as outlined in the job description; teaching and research statements; and three references (Name & Contact Information), addressing to In addition to the other documents, applicants should also send an illustrative course description and syllabus. Please mention the position applied for in the subject line. The review of applications will begin immediately. Only short-listed candidates will be contacted.