London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) has created Amartya Sen Chair in Inequality Studies, named after Indian-origin Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen, who was the Economics professor at LSE from 1971-82.
The post holder will have oversight of the International Inequalities Institute’s (III’s) teaching programmes, including the MSc Inequalities and Social Science (which includes expertise drawn from diverse fields such as Anthropology, Economics, Gender and Geography) and the III doctoral programme, besides contributing to the institute’s Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity programme (AFSEE).
“The AFSEE, housed at the III, is one of the seven Atlantic Fellowship programmes worldwide, which brings mid-career social change leaders, drawn from academic, campaign and policy-making organisations, from around the world to LSE to explore the root causes of inequalities and to work for fairer, healthier, more inclusive societies. There are two Senior Atlantic Fellows from India, Appu Suresh and Priyanka Kotamraju, who took part in the inaugural AFSEE fellowship cohort, and we hope to attract more in future years,” says Mike Savage, director of III where Sen’s work on the capabilities approach to poverty (in which development is seen as a process of expanding the real freedoms of people) is a major theme of its teaching. The Institute connects research on inequality across LSE, engages with the public and policy-makers, and develops and supports new research on inequalities.
“The holder of this Chair will be director of the LSE’s International Inequalities Institute (III) which was launched in 2015 to provide co-ordination and strategic leadership on the inter-disciplinary analysis of inequalities. The Chair will also allow its incumbent to champion new developments in inequality studies with global relevance, and to influence debates and interventions in this crucial area,” Savage explains. He adds, “The Sen Chair will be a dynamic and compelling leader who will apply intellectual vision and expertise in shaping the III and its future.”
According to the South Asia Centre at LSE, this is only the second time that an LSE chair has been named in honour of an eminent Indian, and the first LSE chair to honour a living Indian. “Lord Nicholas Stern is the IG Patel Chair of Economics and Government, which was instituted in 2007 in memory of the Indian economist and civil servant IG Patel (1924-2005), who served as the director of LSE,” Savage says.
It is noteworthy that the III had not been formed when Sen worked as a professor at the LSE. He remains a regular visitor at LSE which also had Dr BR Ambedkar as its alumnus who completed his doctoral thesis there in 1923 and former President KR Narayanan.
“There is an open search for an outstanding global scholar currently taking place for the Amartya Sen Chair,” says Savage.
As the III’s new director, the eminent scholar will take over the leadership of the Institute from Savage, who will return full-time to the Martin White Chair in Sociology at LSE.