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Vice-Chancellor's Office


Terms of Reference for the Advisory Group on the Legacies of Enslavement

  1. The Advisory Group was created at the request of the Vice-Chancellor, in light of the growing public interest in the issue of British universities’ historical links to the slave trade. The Advisory Group is not a decision-making body but is constituted to advise the Vice-Chancellor on how the University might acknowledge and respond to the historical links between the university and the slave trade.
  2. The Advisory Group, which will report its findings to the Vice-Chancellor, is chaired by Professor Martin Millett. Membership of the Advisory Group is listed on its website, but may be amended to accommodate members’ availability and specific expertise requirements. The Advisory Group will, if required, consult others including external specialists.
  3. The Advisory Group will commission and direct research into the University of Cambridge’s involvement in, or links to, the Atlantic slave trade and other historical forms of coerced labour, including indentured labour.
  4. The commissioned research will include, but is not limited to, instances in which the University may have gained financially and otherwise from the slave trade or other historical forms of coerced labour connected to colonialism. This extends to the acquisition of artefacts and collections currently in University’s libraries, museums and other collections.    
  5. One strand of the commissioned research will specifically address the University’s contribution to scholarship that may have supported the validation and dissemination of racialized forms of knowledge. The commissioned research may consider the abolitionist movement in that context.
  6. Pending a formal application (including costings), the commissioned research will be underwritten, in the first instance, by the Vice-Chancellor’s Endowment Fund.
  7. The Advisory Group recognises that the issues arising from the University’s historical links to the slave trade or other historical forms of coerced labour connected to colonialism, and from their contemporary legacies, are of relevance to the Collegiate University as a whole.
  8. The Advisory Group will produce an interim paper setting out its objectives early in 2020. It will aim to report back to the Vice-Chancellor by the end of Easter Term, 2022.
  9. Alongside its findings on historical University links to the slave trade, the Advisory Group will recommend appropriate ways for the University to publicly acknowledge such historical links, and their intergenerational impact – including their effect on university access, knowledge production, levels of attainment and retention.

July 2019