Professor Michael Tharakan is currently the Chairman, Kerala Council for Historical Research. His areas of specialisation include Social and Economic History and Development studies; Decentralization and Local Government; Literacy and Education. His professional experience include: Vice-Chancellor, Kannur University; Sri Ramakrishna Hegde Chair Professor in Decentralization and Governance, Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC), Bangalore; Director, Kerala Institute of local administration (KILA), Thrissur; Associate Fellow, Centre for Development Studies (CDS), Thiruvananthapuram; Research Associate, Centre for Educational Management and Policy, Administrative Staff College of India(ASCI), Hyderabad.
Career positions he held in past include: Member, Committee to study and suggest Measures to Revamp the Social Science Research Sector in the Universities of Kerala; Member, Board of Studies in Anthropology, University of Madras; Member, Academic Council, Madras Institute of Development Studies (MIDS); Member, State Education Advisory Board, Government of Kerala; Member, Executive Committee, Kerala Council for Historical Research (KCHR); Member, Board of Studies in Social Sciences, Mahatma Gandhi University; Member, Advisory Committee, Centre for Studies on Gender Concerns in Agriculture, Kerala Agricultural University (KAU); Member, Expert Committee to study Past Experiences in Decentralised Planning, Government of Kerala; Vice-Chairman, Jan Shikshan Sansthan (Institute of People’s Education); Member, Advisory Committee (Modern Period). History of Science, Indian National Science Academy; Member, Board of Studies, History (PG), Manonmaniam Sundaranar University; Member, Board of Studies, History(PG), University of Kerala; Member, History Curriculum Development Committee, National Open School, New Delhi; Chairman, Advisory Committee, Section on National Movement, State Institute of Children’s Literature, Thiruvananthapuram; Member, Advisory Committee, Encyclopaedic Publications, Government of Kerala; Member, Task Forces on Higher education, Museum and Archives and Archaeology, Social security and welfare for the formulation of the ninth five year plan, Kerala State Planning Board; Member, Archives Advisory Committee, Government of Kerala; Member, Advisory Committee, International Centre for Kerala Studies, University of Kerala.
He was awarded Special Chair in Development Studies, Institute of Management Studies and Policy, University of Antwerp(RUCA), Belgium in 1998. He was elected by the Governing Body of the St.Anthony’s College, Oxford University, UK as Honorary Associate member for the Trinity Term, 1996. Other professional achievements include: Chairperson and Convenor of the Session on Kerala at the European Conference on Modern South Asian Studies, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 1996 and P Gopala Menon Prize in History, University of Kerala, 1974.