Racist Plants? Universities Given Tens of Millions for ‘Embarrassing’ Woke Projects

Plant samples, some hundreds of years old are on show at the Herbarium at Kew Gardens in s
DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images

Tens of millions of pounds earmarked for universities in Britain have reportedly been spent on far-left projects including examining the allegedly racist history of a collection of dried plants and increasing LGBTQ+ “representation” in Medieval History, a report has claimed.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), a non-departmental government body which is responsible for distributing £8 billion in taxpayer money annually to universities, has been accused of spending £27 million on “embarrassing” woke projects by leftist academics.

Amid a drive to cut public spending by the government, the UKRI’s budget has come under increasing scrutiny. According to a report from The Telegraph, a newspaper close to the governing Conservative Party, an analysis of green-lit projects was presented last month to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) by then Cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg MP.

A source involved in the discussions told the broadsheet: “JRM raised it with the permanent secretary, saying this is not a good use of taxpayer money when our budgets were under threat.”

“He said we are spending millions on embarrassing, low-grade projects and does it really meet any of our department’s ambitions,” they added.

One such project which received taxpayer funding from the UKRI was reported to ‘Decolonise the Sloane Herbarium’, in which academics at Queen Mary University in London embarked on studying the relationship between British imperialism and a collection of 120,000 plants currently housed in the History of Natural Museum.

The collection was gathered between the 1680s and 1750s by over 300 botanists and others, most of whom would likely have played little role in Britain’s colonial past. However, Sir Hans Sloane, after whom the collection wass named, has become a target over his connection to the slave trade. A naturalist and collector, Sloane would become instrumental in the formation of the British Library, British Museum, and Museum of Natural History when he bequeathed 71,000 items to the country.

Another project embarked on at taxpayer expense saw researchers at Nottingham Trent University question how Medieval castles around Britain could increase the representation of the LGBTQI+ community in their exhibits, despite the inherent difficulties in doing so.

Greenwich University, meanwhile, was granted public money to examine the “cultural diversity in experimental sound”, as the academics claimed that “noise is overwhelmingly dominated by white affluent male practitioners”.

Defending the projects, a UKRI spokesperson claimed: “UKRI carefully targets the investment of £8 billion in taxpayers’ money each year in a diverse portfolio of activity that fuels the UK’s world-class research and innovation endeavour.

“Our remit spans all disciplines and all sectors, including complex social, economic, political, and cultural issues. Decisions on the projects we support are made via a rigorous peer review process by relevant independent experts from across academia and business.”

In the wake of the resurgent Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, educational institutions across the United Kingdom used the politically charged moment to push the longstanding leftist goal of “decolonising the curriculum” and combat the supposed ills of the British Empire and take on its alleged legacy of white supremacy in the modern day.

The decolonise the curriculum drive has seen universities and other institutions go after subjects such as sheet music, Medieval English literature, Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, and lectures on tropical viruses.

While the nominally Conservative government has paid lip service to making higher education more politically neutral, universities have only continued to double down on their agendas, with over 60 schools signing up to a supposed “Race Equality Charter” last year in which universities would be awarded “race equality badges” if they sufficiently decolonise their coursework and enforce leftist ideology through the policing of micro-aggressions, for example.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka


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