Inquiry into the History of Eugenics at UCL: MORE Recommendations

By | February 27, 2020
Cover of Recommendations - Investigation into the History of Eugenics at UCL

These are recommendations from members of the Commission of Inquiry into the History of Eugenics at UCL, convened at the request of UCL Provost Michael Arthur in December 2018. The Commission was comprised of members of the UCL community from different professions, faculties and disciplinary traditions. We came together with different understandings of the role of eugenics at UCL, different understandings of how to interpret this history, and how this history manifests itself in UCL’s present (as per our terms of reference). Through our conversations we have discussed these differences of perspective and, unsurprisingly, not all of these have been reconciled. However, through these discussions, where we (the undersigned) have come to agreement is upon the recommendations in this report.

This set of recommendations arise out of our collective discussions. These were informed by the witnesses who took the time to come and speak to us about their experiences and scholarship, historical and archival research undertaken for us, and the results of our commissioned survey of UCL staff, students, alumni and the wider public.

As members of the group tasked with reflecting on the history of eugenics and its ongoing legacies at UCL, we are not the first to address this complicated history.  Former and current staff and students have raised concerns about its historical association with UCL and, in some instances, made similar recommendations to those that come here.

Eugenics represents only one aspect of UCL’s difficult histories that need to be addressed. These recommendations cannot mark the end of our reckoning with difficult pasts and how they manifest in our present. These recommendations are a contribution to the process, one which we hope will enable institutional change while creating spaces and opportunities for us to speak to each other across disciplinary boundaries and personal experience.

Signed (in alphabetical order),

  1. Dr Caroline Bressey, Department of Geography
  2. Professor Joe Cain, Department of Science and Technology Studies
  3. Subhadra Das, UCL Culture
  4. Professor Tom Fearn, Department of Statistical Science
  5. Professor Peter Fonagy, Division of Psychology and Language Sciences
  6. Professor Tamar Garb, Institute of Advanced Studies
  7. Fiona McClement, Office of the President and Provost
  8. Ash Talwar, Office of the President and Provost
  9. Professor Mark Thomas, Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment
  10. Nilisha Vashist, Women’s Officer, UCL Students’ Union

Collectively, this is the MORE group.

Note for recommendation 10: One member of the Inquiry committee declared a possible conflict of interest and neither supports nor objects to this recommendation.

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Inquiry into the History of Eugenics at UCL: MORE Recommendations