Historical figures


The mobilizations of recent years around issues of equality, harassment and racism have reignited controversies about the place in the public space of historical figures such as Carl Vogt. The university community has also taken up these issues and has spearheaded various initiatives to interrogate nineteenth-century names and legacies.

In June 2020, the University of Geneva wished to contribute to the debate by providing a scientific vision. It mandated a multidisciplinary think tank to examine the management of scientific heritage by the University and the place of historical figures in the public space. The Task Force concluded that the figurations in the public space, including names and busts, should be in line with the values of the institution. However, figurations linked to the memory of the institution carry a multitude of values, some of which are at odds with those of the University today.

Illuminating the past and preparing for the future is at the heart of the alma mater's missions. With its campus tightly woven into the urban fabric, the University of Geneva is able to invest the public space to reflect these explorations: to question the world, to elucidate problematic chapters of history and to prepare the society of tomorrow. This approach is accompanied by a reflection - at the level of training programs, research and institutional responses to experiences of discrimination - on the persistence of problematic legacies in the present.