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UCL to Look Into Its Eugenics Past

University College London is launching an investigation into its past ties with eugenics, the Guardian reports.

This, it adds, comes about a year after the revelation that a eugenics conference had been taking place at the university in secret. Last January, the paper reported that James Thompson, then an honorary senior lecturer at UCL, hosted the London Conference on Intelligence there and that its speakers included white supremacists. Thompson as well as Toby Young, the director of the Office of Students who attended the event, have left UCL, the Guardian now adds.

It notes that the institute is now looking into its past ties to eugenics, including to Francis Galton, the Victorian scientist known as the field's father. UCL says it will also be considering whether school buildings should be named after eugenics leaders like Galton. Michael Arthur, the president of UCL, tells the Guardian it is undertaking this review as the issue "causes considerable concern among many members of our community."

Academics at other institutes tell the Guardian they hope the inquiry leads to change. "I think it's hugely important for universities to acknowledge their past actions, but it must lead to some real change, rather than simply being rhetoric," adds Kalwant Bhopal from Birmingham University.