Contribute to the dialogue about our history and legacy - 23 November 2021
Now that we are midway through our community history dialogue, we wanted to give you an update on where we are, and to encourage you to continue to engage with one another to help the College resolve a course of action.
As you know, the independent History Group published its report in October, following months of careful research, input from our community, and frank discussion among this group. We are grateful for the thoughtful and deliberative work of everyone who contributed.
Having completed their work, the History Group provided thought-provoking recommendations that challenge us to think about how we celebrate individuals who have contributed to our fields and our institution.
No decisions have yet been made: a College response to the report will be made by President’s Board, informed by the current community dialogue.
We hope that you will take part, if you have not done so already. You can find out how to do so on the History Dialogue webpage.
We are heartened to see so many students, staff and alumni joining the discussion. Our community’s thoughtful, constructive approach to this dialogue is inspirational. We see it in the formal workshops and correspondence we set up for this dialogue, but perhaps more importantly also in classrooms, labs, cafes and online discussions.
We have already heard a very wide range of views on the report. There are some areas where a consensus is emerging, including on the need to better celebrate some figures from our past, such as Abdus Salam. In other areas, notably the Huxley building’s name, views greatly diverge.
We know that these conversations can be difficult, especially when we collectively hold profoundly different views on how to proceed. Nevertheless, it is vital that we talk about these issues as a community. We have been impressed with how colleagues are thinking about the issues, and how Imperial colleagues, peers and friends are learning from each other. This will ultimately help bring the community together. Whatever we decide, some will be disappointed. But we can all expand our knowledge and understanding of our history, and of each other, as we progress.
Even where there are a great many differing opinions, we can find common ground. It is clear that this community believes that our history ought to be something we learn from, not cover up. That’s precisely why we are having these important discussions.
We are especially grateful for the many new ideas, as well as thoughtful opinions, that have come from workshops and correspondents to the history dialogue. Please keep sharing them.
The focus groups and History Dialogue inbox will be open until 13 December for our community to share their views. We are also planning an all-College hybrid forum in the new year, details of which will follow. President’s Board will receive the outcomes of the process from the external facilitators leading the discourse early next year. Shortly after that, we will decide how to proceed. In the meantime, we continue to welcome views, ideas and debate.
Professor Alice Gast, President
Professor Ian Walmsley, Provost