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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 Hildi.Gabel@asian-university.org.