The Chowdhury Center for Bangladesh Studies

The Subir & Malini Chowdhury Center for Bangladesh Studies, established in 2013 with a generous gift from the Subir and Malini Chowdhury Foundation, champions the study of Bangladesh’s cultures, peoples and history. The first of its kind in the US, the Center’s mission is to create an innovative model combining research, scholarships, the promotion of art and culture, and the building of ties between institutions in Bangladesh and the University of California.

The Center was officially launced on Monday, March 30, 2015 by UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, Founder & Chairman of BRAC Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, and Mr. Chowdhury. Click HERE for a video recording of Sir Fazle's lecture and pictures from the event. 

The pioneering force behind the Center is Subir Chowdhury. Mr. Chowdhury, originally from Chittagong and trained as an engineer, is a renowned business consultant, author of many books, and is one of the world’s leading management gurus particularly known for his emphasis on quality.

In addition to promoting and integrating interdisciplinary scholarship, the Chowdhury Center will sponsor lectures and conferences and provide the following three scholarships:

  • The Subir Chowdhury Undergraduate Scholarship will be awarded to students concentrating in South and Southeast Asian Studies at Berkeley and will be matched by the Ford Challenge, a fund provided by a Berkeley donor to match undergraduate scholarship gifts.

The newly established Chowdhury Center for Bangladesh Studies was featured in the Dhaka Tribune. Click here to read it.

UC Berkeley Faculty and Scholars with a special interest in this region:

Pranab Bardhan (Development Economics), Amit Basu (Bangla Language), Ashok Gadgil (Arsenic Free Water), Isha Ray (Safe Water), Raka Ray (Feminist Studies), Ananya Roy (Microfinance & Poverty Alleviation), Sanchita Saxena (Textile & Garment Industry), Allan H. Smith (Arsenic and Public Health)

Bangladesh-related Visiting Scholar

The Center regularly accepts visiting scholars who are pursuing a research project on South Asia. Our Bangladesh-related Visting Scholar is Dr. Ahmed Badruzzaman

Bangladesh-related Library Collections


Berkeley's research and collecting interest in South Asia is a long-standing one, dating back at least to 1906, when Sanskrit was first taught here. At that time, the Library's acquisitions included Indic religion, history, philosophy and literature, in Sanskrit and Western languages. Later collecting added most of the social sciences and humanities, in South Asian and Western languages. The South and Southeast Asia Library (SSEAL) has an extensive collection of specialized reference material for South Asia and a collection of unbound current periodicals and newspapers. Most circulating items for language and literature, history, political science, economics, sociology, government documents, philosophy and religion, South Asian art and art history, women's studies, and the South Asian diaspora are shelved in the Main Stack. Some branches and affiliated libraries have collections of South Asian material including Anthropology, Education/Psychology, Bioscience, Environmental Design, and Music. The number of monographs in all languages, including English, is approximately 450,000 with the current collections in Bangla itself comprising 23,000. The Library subscribes to around 500 serial and newspaper titles in South Asian languages and about 3,300 titles in English and Western languages.

Bangladesh-related Course Offerings

The philosophy of the Bangla teaching and program at Berkeley is to make the students aware of the incredible depth and range of Bangla culture from the 19th century to the present. Bangla teaching highlights the cultures from pre-Independence Bengal in India, modern West Bengal and Bangladesh, as well as the culture of the diasporic Bangla population in North America. Language, culture, nation, history and politics are brought alive through Bangla teaching at UCB. The Bangla program, since it started in 2005, has already been able to fulfill its unique potential through sustained student participation and scholarly engagement with the Bengali language, culture and society across the borders of the two Bengals. We offer both language focused as well as content based courses in Bangla.

  • Language Courses: The goal of the Bangla program is to provide UCB students with comprehensive solutions to learning Bangla language and culture at both the Introductory and Intermediate levels.
  • Content Courses: Content courses on Bengal’s culture and history cover a wide range of topics: 19th-century Bengali social and cultural Enlightenment; nationalist and colonial struggle in Bengal and India; the Partition of India and Bengal in 1947; and the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. Both the Bengali materials in English translation, and the cinema of Bengal have been effective tools of instruction about this regions past and present.

Bangladesh-related Programming

Over the years, the Center has offered diverse Bangladesh-related programming. Some of the more recent events are listed below.

Spring 2015Reception in honor of Ambassador Marcia Bernicat: The U.S. Ambassador to BangladeshEvent Pictures
"Dying, Not Dying, and Not Being Born: Experimental Exuberance in Bangladesh" - Lecture by Michelle Murphy, University of Toronto at "Experimental Populations | Universal Life: Rethinking 20th-century Medicine, Public Health, and the Relation of Economy to Experiment in South Asia and beyond"
Choudhury Center LaunchEvent Pictures
A Quiet Revolution in Bangladesh: Lecture by Sir Fazle Hasan Abed to inaugurate the Subir and Malini Chowdhury Center for Bangladesh StudiesVideo
Fall 2014Made in Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka - The Labor Behind the Global Garments and Textiles Industries: A book talk by Sanchita Saxena 
Fall 2013 
Challenging the Injustice of Poverty: Economist Rehman Sobhan offers an agenda for inclusive development in South Asia
Spring 2013Repositioning Bangladesh: A conversation with David Lewis on Bangladesh’s Achievements & Future Challenges
Bridging the Policy-Action Divide: Conference on challenges and prospects for Bangladesh
Press Release
Fall 2011Dealing with the largest mass poisoning in the history of mankind: Locally-affordable arsenic remediation of drinking water for South Asia
Spring 201240 Years of Camp Life: Documentary on Bangladesh’s ‘Bihari Camps’
Fall 2009Methodological Tools for Social Scientists: Workshop for Social Scientists from International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh
Emerging Bangladesh: Conference on Opportunities & Challenges for Bangladesh’s Future

We are strongly committed to both adding as well as enhancing the offerings available through the Chowdhury Center. Naming opportunities continue to be available in some of the following areas:

  • Internship and research opportunities in Bangladesh
  • Courses on Bangladesh or the Bangladeshi-American community.
  • Lecture series on Bangladesh.

For further information, please contact:

Sanchita Saxena

Director, Chowdhury Center for Bangladesh Studies
Executive Director, Institute for South Asia Studies
(510) 642-3608