As did American universities, including Georgetown, Harvard, Rutgers, Columbia, Brown, and Princeton, the University of Glasgow, in Scotland, has recently declared itself accountable for having participated in enabling and receiving profits and gifts from slaving holding and plantation operations.
The University of Glasgow is the 4th oldest university in the English-speaking world, and has produced at least 7 Nobel Prize laureates and 3 British Prime Ministers.
Current university officials, based on the results of a weighty research report completed in 2018 called, “Slavery, Abolition and the University of Glasgow,” have determined that the university helped perpetuate slavery and the slave trade by accepting money from profiteers in the business, some of whom were former students and university personnel, and some who were benefactors who looked fondly on the university. To atone for that behavior, the University, in association with CARICOM’s (Caribbean Economic Community) Caribbean Reparations Commission, led by Sir Hillary Beckles, is preparing a strategic plan to demonstrate how to help change the society it helped to create.
Thus, the University has already committed to a reparative justice program that aims to increase the “racial diversity of its students and staff as a way to reduce the “degree attainment gap” in England and Scotland, and to create an “Interdisciplinary Centre for the Study of Historical Slavery and Slavery’s Legacies,” ( including the study of modern slave trafficking). The University also intends to provide a new raft of scholarships and full tuition arrangements for minority students, starting the next academic year.
The Caribbean Reparations Commission has praised the University’s plans and has urged the University to do even more. The Commission sees this new development as a victory—although not the major one—in its struggle to get England and other European countries to admit their culpability in both profiting from slavery and the slave trade, and in creating societies in the Caribbean and elsewhere in the Diaspora that have continued to financially benefit Europe while simultaneously impoverishing and maintaining the impoverishment of African-descendant countries and communities.
This is compared to the solutions rendered by American universities found financially involved in slavery and the slave trade in the U.S. At Georgetown University, for example, recently retrieved historical archives demonstrated that the Jesuit Catholic Church leaders in charge of Georgetown in the 19th century ( specifically 1838), in order to save the university from bankruptcy, sold off 272 of the plantation slaves owned by the Church and the university. Georgetown recently agreed to offer scholarships and admissions guarantees to identified descendants.
Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute.