Whitewashing Research


This topic focuses on the tarnished histories that have provided us with the tools and intellectual bases for much of our research today. 

Why are we so keen to present science as a rational, unpolitical system for gathering knowledge when so much of it has been grounded in one person’s beliefs? What should we do to acknowledge the harm that research has done? How should we reckon with these ill-gotten gains today? 

Facilitation Notes

Discussion Questions

  • Should Universities be more open about their unethical research history?
  • Do we have a responsibility to hold history accountable to our 21st century values?
  • How can we ensure future science is never used as evidence to discriminate against certain people?
  • Is it better to erase any mention of unethical research, or should it be presented with full transparency?
  • Should students be taught the unethical practices behind the content of their courses?
  • Are there other places besides statues where unethical science is still memorialised? What should we do about it?

Resource Personalisation

You could do quick research on your own university’s ties with unethical research. This could include:

  • Research that the University is famous for but the unethical means behind it are often not talked about
  • Statues or explicit memorials for unethical researchers
  • Research that is taught in lectures without its dark context 
  • Opinion pieces about this subject in your University newspaper

Culture Club.