Ben HaywardAugust 4th
2019

The University of Glasgow has signed a deal to help fund a £20 million programme of 'reparative justice’ due to its historical links to the slave trade.

Glasgow signed the deal with the University of the West Indies (UWI) in the Caribbean after a study found it had benefited to the tune of tens of millions of pounds from the ‘appalling and heinous’ Atlantic slave trade, reports the Independent.

The institution has now signed a ‘memorandum of understanding’ with the UWI, creating the Glasgow-Caribbean Centre for Development Research in the process.

The centre will host events, sponsor research and coordinate academic collaborations between universities, and is aiming to raise public awareness about the history of slavery.

After signing the agreement in the Jamaican capital Kingston, chief operating officer of the University of Glasgow, Dr David Duncan said it was a historic occasion’ for both universities.

Regarding the university’s investigation into how it benefitted from the slave trade, Dr Duncan said: “We were conscious both of the proud part that Glasgow played in the abolitionist movement, and an awareness that we would have benefited, albeit indirectly, from that appalling and heinous trade.

“From the very first we determined to be open, honest and transparent with the findings, and to produce a programme of reparative justice.

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“I am delighted that as a result of the report we are now able to sign a memorandum of understanding between the University of Glasgow and the UWI and I look forward to the many collaborative ventures that we will jointly undertake in future.”

Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, vice-chancellor of UWI, said he was proud of the decision Glasgow had taken. He said: “[It is a] bold, moral, historic step in recognising the slavery aspect of its past and to rise as an advocate of reparatory justice, and an example of 21st-century university enlightenment.”

The move comes amid a wider ‘decolonise’ movement across university campuses in both Britain and the US. 

Earlier this year, Bristol and Cambridge universities launched inquiries into their historic links to the slave trade, with the two-year investigation at Cambridge examining the role the university played during the ‘dark phase of human history’.

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