Ted Cantle, who chairs the institute of Community Cohesion, will head a steering group of between 12 and 15 people including local business leaders, council representatives and those from the voluntary sector.
The six month project will begin in October with the aim of putting together a raft of recommendations to improve community cohesion in the area.
Prof Cantle has held a raft of influential local government positions including chief executive of Nottingham city council (1990 - 2001), director of housing for Leicester city council (1988-90) and for Wakefield metropolitan district council (1979-83).
Mr Cantle told the Lancashire Telegraph: “There are a number of problems in Blackburn with Darwen that are similar to problems in many northern towns.
It is not just to do with ethnicity. There are differences like age that create issues.”
A council spokesman said: “It is quite a coup for us to get Prof Cantle involved in our cohesion work.”