Brain Sciences


Black Lives Matter - A message from the Dean of the Faculty of Brain Sciences

10 June 2020


The killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis on May 25 has caused global grief and outrage, fuelling the Black Lives Matter movement to galvanise action against racism. As communities across the world join together to mourn this latest death in the long line of unjust killings at the hands of the police, I offer my sincerest condolences to everyone for the anxiety and upset this has caused.

UCL is proud to be ‘London’s Global University’. The global issue of intolerance and ignorance is something we need to take responsibility for within our own communities. The Faculty of Brain Sciences is not innocent. Our historical involvement with eugenics is a reminder of the institutionalised racism upon which disciplines within the Faculty built their foundations.

As Dean of the Faculty of Brain Sciences, I am responsible for dismantling these foundations and leading the way towards a tolerant and educated community, who feel empowered to speak out against intolerance, ignorance and hatred.

In times like these, it is imperative our words are followed by actions. I commit to taking the following steps to confront racism and other forms of discrimination and structural inequity within the Faculty:

  1. The results from UCL’s Coping with COVID survey indicate that COVID-19 and the effects of lockdown are exacerbating pre-existing racial inequalities. We will identify additional pathways for staff and students to share their experiences, observations, and suggestions around representation and existing practices, so that we can all listen actively, reflect, and learn.
  2. We will issue guidance to managers about how to address racial inequalities exacerbated by COVID-19. We will host a number of ‘Racialised Implicit Bias training’ sessions online with an EDI specialist from SOAS, to better educate ourselves on races issues and what we can do to counteract white privilege and fragility in our work through focus on policies, procedures, practices.
  3. We will use the current work being undertaken to move our teaching online in response to the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to implement a less colonised curriculum that values contributions from diverse researchers, an initiative led by Lasana Harris the Faculty’s lead for Race Equality.
  4. Research within the Faculty has shown racial bias against our colleagues within recruitment practices. We will use this opportunity of remote working to take a step back and design, develop, implement and evaluate standardised procedures to prevent biases and prejudices affecting recruitment and progression of staff and students within the Faculty.
  5. By September 2020 we will also identify a strategy to integrate longer-term recommendations to better support our staff and students.

Through the appointment of Anna Cox as Vice Dean for EDI and Lasana Harris as the Faculty’s lead for Race Equality earlier this year, our Faculty has an active team working towards promoting race equality. If you have suggestions on what the Faculty can do to advance race equality or would like to join the Race Equality Team please contact myself, Anna, or Lasana.

I implore all staff to act with sensitivity to their colleagues and friends who may be feeling concerned and isolated; feelings which are going to be amplified by COVID-19 and lockdown. As distressing as these months have been, they will prove to be a catalyst for impactful positive change within the Faculty and beyond, and I hope you can join me in welcoming this change.

With best wishes,

Alan Thompson

Please see below a list of resources that may be useful for you in these difficult times:

Read the Provost’s View on Black Lives Matter Campaign