We have much to celebrate in Imperial’s rich and vibrant history, yet we want to examine it further to confront troubling connections to people and their actions that were wrong then and are deplorable today. It is right that we face these uncomfortable truths and consider how we can steward our legacy in a way that fits our values."

Professor Alice Gast

President of Imperial College London

Imperial has commissioned a Group under the aegis of President’s Board to examine the history of the College through its links to the British Empire, and to report on the present understanding and reception of the College’s legacy and heritage in the context of its present-day mission, which is ‘to achieve enduring excellence in research and education in science, engineering, medicine and business for the benefit of society’. 

Imperial was founded in 1907, tracing its roots back to the Great Exhibition of 1851. The History Group will explore the College’s involvement in and links with Britain’s colonial history, in terms of its members and associates and its actions and impact. 

Part of the Group's work will involve consulting with members of the College and its wider communities, including alumni and partners, to understand current views on the College’s history.

The History Group will advise the President and Provost on how the College might acknowledge and respond to its past, including under-celebrated contributions to the College’s mission and reputation and the ways in which benefactors and others associated with the College are currently noted.

Consulting our community

The call for views closed on 3 February 2021. We are grateful to staff and students who have helped us delve deeper into our history by providing evidence, information and resources with us already.

Read the Imperial History Group privacy notice (pdf)‌.

History Group

Membership

Chair

Professor Nilay Shah, Professor of Process Systems Engineering

Members

Dr Anna Barnard, Advanced Research Fellow (Sir Henry Dale Fellowship), Chemistry

Paul Brown, Mechanical Instrumentation Workshop Manager, Department of Physics

Professor Edwin Chilvers, Head of the National Heart & Lung Institute

Emma Couves, Research Postgraduate, Life Sciences

Melanie Lee, Senior Organisational Development Consultant, Human Resources

Professor Liz Lightstone, Consul (Clinical) for the Faculty of Medicine

Dr Wayne Mitchell, Senior Teaching Fellow, Immunology and Inflammation

Dr Mirabelle Muûls, Assistant Professor in Economics, Business School

Professor Washington Ochieng, Head of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Shervin Sabeghi, 2019-21 Deputy President (Welfare), Imperial College Union

Professor Sir Tejinder Virdee, Professor of Physics

Advisors

Chris Banks, Assistant Provost (Space) and Director of Library Services 

Anne Barrett, College Archivist & Corporate Records Manager

Professor Stephen Curry, Assistant Provost (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion)

Nicola Pogson, Director of Alumni Relations

Clare Turner, Senior International Relations Officer

Dr Michael Weatherburn, Field Leader in Humanities and Social Sciences

Heather Williamson, Director of Principal Gifts

External advisors

Dr Caroline Bressey, Reader in Cultural and Historical Geography, University College London

Dr Erica Charters, Associate Professor of Global History and the History of Medicine, University of Oxford

Terms of Reference

1. To examine and narrate Imperial College’s involvement in and links with Britain’s colonial history, in terms of its members and associates, its actions and its impact.

2. To consult with members of the College and its wider communities, including alumni and partners to understand current views on College’s history.

3.  To advise the President and Provost on how the College might acknowledge and respond to its history.

Key Dates

January 2021 - interim report 

June 2021 - final report 

October 2021 - President’s Board recommended actions