Professor Gowher Rizvi is Advisor to the Prime Minister for International Affairs and Special Representative since April 2009. In a career nearly three decades, and spanning four continents, Professor Rizvi has combined academic appointments with positions in international organizations, not-for-profit institutions and the media. Prior to moving to Dhaka Rizvi held the offices of the Vice Provost for International Programs & Professor of Global Affairs at the University of Virginia. Earlier he was the director of the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance & Innovation at the John F. School of Government, Harvard University. He has held a number of other positions in academic, nonprofit and international organizations including: Representative of the Ford Foundation for South Asia in Delhi & New York; Director, Asia Society New York; Fellow and Professor of International Relations, Nuffield College, Oxford; Pro-Director & Beit Fellow in Commonwealth Studies, Queen Elizabeth House, Oxford; Senior Lecturer, University of Warwick; Regional Director for Asia Pacific at Oxford Analytica; Lecturer in History, Balliol College, Oxford; and special Assistant to the UN High Commissioner for Afghanistan.
He has both taught and written on a range of subjects and has considerable hands-on experience in institutional management, international development and conflict resolution. His publications include: The State of Access. Success and Failure of Democracies to Create Equal Opportunities (Brookings Institution Press, Washington DC, 2008) [co-edited with Jorrit de Jong.]; Beyond Boundaries (Toronto, 1997) South Asia in a Changing International Order (New Delhi,1993); South Asian Insecurity and the Great Powers (London,1986); Bangladesh: the Struggle for the Restoration of Democracy (London,1986); Perspectives on Imperialism and Decolonization (London,1984); and Lord Linlithgow and India (London,1978). He is the founder-editor of Contemporary South Asia,
Three themes run through all his endeavors: a concern for social justice, a keen interest in institution building and a deep commitment to quality higher education. In the last two decade he has been involved in the setting up of a large number of new foundations, institutions and capacity-building programs. As the Representative of the Ford Foundation in Delhi, he explicitly shifted the focus of the Foundation toward the historically disadvantaged sections of the society namely women, the tribal population and the Dalits–the so-called untouchables. Many of the new institutions set up by the Foundation were aimed at the empowerment of these groups. As a teacher and educationist he has deep interest in quality education and research.
Gowher Rizvi obtained a ‘double first’ in BA Honors and MA from the University of Dhaka before going to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, where he obtained his D.Phil. He is married to Agnese Barolo, a native of Piedmont, Italy. They have one daughter, Maya, who is a graduate student at Oxford; and they live in Dhaka with their dog and three cats. He and his family are vegetarian and volunteer for animal welfare organizations.