LONDON – Scotland’s Glasgow University on Friday launched a project to promote awareness of the effects of slavery, the first of its kind by a British university, after finding out it benefitted financially from the historic trade.
The “program of restorative justice” will be managed in partnership with the University of the West Indies, and the target money of £20 million ($25 million) will be spent over the next 20 years on establishing the Glasgow-Caribbean Center for Development Research.
The center, to be co-located in Glasgow and the Caribbean, will “stimulate public awareness about the history of slavery,” the university said.
The program will “further enhance awareness and understanding of our history and the university’s connections to both historical slavery and the abolitionist movement,” said Anton Muscatelli, principal and vice chancellor of the university.
A recent report commissioned by the university found that it played a leading role in the abolitionist movement in the 18th and 19th centuries.
But it also found that the institution received “significant financial support,” estimated to be between £16.7 million and £198 million in present-day terms, from people who profited from slavery.
Hilary Beckles, vice-chancellor of the University of the West Indies, said he looked forward to “a significant, successful and long-lasting partnership.”
Cambridge University earlier this year announced a two-year investigation into its historic links to slavery, looking at bequests from traders and how its academics might have influenced “race-based thinking.”
Universities in Britain and the United States have in recent years faced protests by students over their past associations with imperialism and slavery.
In 2016, Cambridge’s Jesus College removed from its main hall a bronze cockerel statue stolen with other artefacts from the West African kingdom of Benin in the 19th century.
Around the same time, rival Oxford University faced an angry but ultimately unsuccessful campaign to remove a statue of 19th-century British imperialist Cecil Rhodes.