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Updated on 14 Jul, 2019

Prof. Gracious Thomas

Director and Chairperson


Professor Gracious Thomas (born on September 03, 1956) is the founder Director of the School of Social Work (SOSW) at Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), New Delhi. He has B.A, M.A, Ph.D and D.Litt in Social Work. He is an eminent academician having over three decades of research, teaching and administrative experience by holding very important positions as Professor NABARD Chair at Bhubaneswar, Director, National Centre for Disability Studies, IGNOU, and Director School of Continuing Education, IGNOU. Prior to joining IGNOU, he was lecturer in Social Work at ISSW, Indore (DAVV). During his over a quarter century of engagement in IGNOU, he has made valuable contribution in Indian Higher Education through ODL, particularly in developing programmes studies in social work, HIV/AIDS and Philosophy in the Indian context.


Books on Dr. Thomas
Some of the academics from Central University of Kerala, Visva Bharti, Shantiniketan, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar University, New Delhi, and a Delhi University college have written books highlighting the academic contributions of Dr. Thomas.

1) Resilent Social Work : The Gracious Way

Dr. Koteswara Raju Penmetsa, Academic Coordinator of social work discipline at Central University of Kerala, has authored a book: “Resilient Social Work: The Gracious Way” published by Ane Books, New Delhi (2014). This book is a detouring of ‘success mantras’ drawn out of the rich practice wisdom of Professor Thomas in a career of agile practice and teachership spanning across three decades. In the Foreword, His Holiness, The Dalai Lama has stated that Dr. Thomas has made a great contribution to the improvement of social work in this country, teaching, conducting academic research and developing practical new methods based on the age-old values of compassion, social justice and inter-religious harmony.

2) Reaching the Unreached with Social Work Education : The Gracious Way
Prof. P.K. Ghosh, Department of Social Work, Visva Bharati, Shantiniketan and Dr. Aneesh Kurian, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar University, New Delhi have co-authored the book “Reaching the Unreached with Social Work Education: The Gracious Way” which tries to give answer to the pertinent question: “Can social work be taught in distance education environment?” The book is a journey with the growth and development of social work education through distance mode in India under the academic leadership of Prof. Thomas. The book emphasise the fact that social work in distance mode is based on specific knowledge and skills grounded in evidence based pedagogical theories and practices. It also explores the technology used to maintain the integrity of field education; the process involved for the development of indigenous study materials; student support services in distance mode and research and extension programmes for reaching the unreached.

3) Fighting HIV/AIDS : The Gracious Way
Dr. Bishnu Mohan Dash, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar College, Delhi University, has edited a book “Fighting HIV/AIDS : The Gracious Way” which provides the reader with a reasonable extent of literature pertaining to the silent but vibrant initiatives on HIV/AIDS prevention and control by Dr. Thomas spanning over a quarter century. This book is a compilation of articles prepared by a group of thirteen social work academics and research scholars about the contribution of Prof. Thomas in the field of HIV AIDS and his fight against HIV/AIDS through education and awareness campaigns using contemporary methods of social work such as advocacy, networking, resource mobilization, and the development of massive quality materials-print, audio and video- on the subject of HIV/AIDS for the ordinary layman in the street to the intellectuals pursuing doctoral programmes.

Academic publications
Prof. Thomas is a renowned author having several publications to his credit. He has authored/co-authored over 20 books, edited/ co-edited over 50 books and over 200 monographs/blocks (having ISBN numbers) apart from research papers and articles in reputed national and international journals, periodicals etc. President (L) Sh. K.R. Narayanan, wrote foreword for two of his books. Most of his writings are on social work, HIV/AIDS, ethics, world religions, Philosophy and related topics. Some of these publications were released by world leaders like Nobel Laurate Dalai Lama, Bharat Ratna, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam and Election Commissioner Navin B Chawla. He has contributed several articles to the Encyclopaedia of Social Work and Encyclopaedia of Philosophy.

Participation and Paper presentation in National and International Events
Prof. Thomas has presented several papers in both national and international seminars and conferences on various topics related to HIV/AIDS, Social Work and Open and Distance Learning. He has given several interviews through national dailies, other print and electronic media both within and outside the country. In this process he has visited several countries spread across the globe including USA, Canada, Australia, China, Japan, some South East Asian countries, some SAARC countries and several countries in the Middle East, Europe and Africa. Dr. Thomas is being invited as visiting faculty to several Universities and renowned institutions of higher education within India and abroad which include Florida State University, Hunter College of Social Work, New York, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK, James Cook University, Australia etc. Several Universities, educational bodies, public sector undertakings, donor agencies and NGOs continue to invite him for lectures and consultations.

Dr. Thomas was honorary Advisor to the Indian Parliamentary Forum on HIV/AIDS (since 2002), Consultor to the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, Vatican (2001-2005), and Expert on the Inter-continental Study Group on HIV/AIDS, Rome (1998-2000).

He was instrumental in establishing the CBCI-IGNOU Chair in 2000, the Centre for Tibetan Studies and the Mother Teresa Chair in 2011. He also brought several collaborative endeavours to IGNOU, which include the MoU with Florida State University, the AIDS Health Care Foundation, USA, American Embassy, WHO, NACO etc.


Official Address:
School of Social Work,
Block G,
Maidan GarhiNew Delhi - 110068
New Delhi, India
  +91-11-29532467, 29571692
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[Updated on 28-Nov-2022]