About the Center

South Asia includes the modern countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, as well as the Tibet Autonomous Region. Our programs reflect the diversity of this complex, historical landscape, highlighting the many rich geographical, cultural, religious, linguistic and political traditions of the region.

The University of Pennsylvania has been a leader in South Asian language and area studies for more than 70 years. Under the leadership of W. Norman Brown, Penn established one of the earliest and most influential programs in South Asian Regional Studies. The South Asia Center grew out of this effort as one of the first generation of Area Studies Centers in the United States.  

Today, Penn supports four administrative units focused on the study of South Asia: the South Asia Center (SAC), the Department of South Asia Studies (SAST), the Center for the Advanced Study of India (CASI), dedicated to the study of contemporary India, and the Delhi based Penn Institute for the Advanced Study of India (UPIASI). 

SAC is a National Resource Center with a University wide mission. We coordinate and support faculty and student research, conferences, curriculum development, outreach, and other activities and events related to all countries and languages of South Asia.  The Center connects faculty and programs in the Natural Sciences, Humanities, Social Sciences, and professional schools at Penn.  We also maintain and facilitate scholarly collaborations with partner institutions throughout South Asia, support visiting scholars, and develop capacity-building programs for our faculty and collaborative partners.

We have a distinguished and committed faculty dedicated to South Asia and comparative approaches to Asian Studies. Our faculty, degree programs, language offerings, scholarship, and library research collections build on Penn’s legacy as a center for the study of Asia as we look forward to newly emerging needs and areas of research.