UCL’s bizarre eugenics apology

Covid aside, how should we sum up the last twelve months? The Year of the Abject Apology fits rather neatly. The past year has witnessed cringing confessions by all sorts of institutions to prior complicity in slavery, colonialism or exploitation in some form or another.  University College London is the latest institution to apologise, saying sorry because scientist and polymath Francis Galton, the ‘father of eugenics’, researched the subject while at UCL in the nineteenth century. Galton also left the university money in 1911, to found a professorship in eugenics. This whole episode in UCL’s history would normally have been decently buried. Teaching of eugenics has long ceased at UCL; Galton’s chair was sensibly transmuted into a chair of