Thomas Asher is Program Director of Academia in the Public Sphere and Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa Programs at Social Science Research Council (SSRC), where he serves as director of several programs related to international education and international affairs. These programs include a grants program that promotes collaboration between area studies experts and journalists on the topic of Islamic traditions and Muslim societies, a collaborative grants program undertaken with the British Council to strengthen world-history curriculum reform, and a fellowship program to support the next generation of African social scientists working on peace, security, and development issues.
At the SSRC, he also has convened senior university researchers to explore the implications of Department of Defense funding of social scientists and with the Rockefeller Archive Center has established a working group exploring the relationship between the historical development of the social sciences and philanthropic funding. He served on an advisory board of the National Endowment for the Humanities during two phases of the Bridging Cultures Initiative, first a grants competition and later the Digital Bookshelf. He also has written on participatory politics, the effects of economic liberalization on political life in South Asia, and implications of a transition from a manufacturing economy to a knowledge economy. He speaks Hindi and lived in India for several years as a child and later to undertake his dissertation research.
Asher holds a PhD in anthropology from the University of Chicago and previously served as a research fellow at Human Rights Watch–Africa and acting executive director of Food Aid Management, a food security organization. Tom Asher joined the SSRC, initially as a program officer in November 2007.