University College London (UCL) has expressed “deep regret” for its role in the propagation of eugenics, alongside a promise to improve conditions for disabled staff and students and a pledge to give “greater prominence” to teaching the malign legacy of the discredited movement.
The formal apology for legitimising eugenics – the advocacy of selective breeding of the population often to further racist or discriminatory aims – is UCL’s latest effort to address its links to early eugenicists such as Francis Galton, who funded a professorship in eugenics at the university.
“UCL acknowledges with deep regret that it played a fundamental role in the development, propagation and legitimisation of eugenics,” the university said as part of its apology.
“This dangerous ideology cemented the spurious idea that varieties of human life could be assigned different value. It provided justification for some of the most appalling crimes in human history: genocide, forced euthanasia, colonialism and other forms of mass murder and oppression based on racial and ableist hierarchy.
“The legacies and consequences of eugenics still cause direct harm through the racism, antisemitism, ableism and other harmful stereotyping that they feed. These continue to impact on people’s lives directly, driving discrimination and denying opportunity, access and representation.”