University of Cambridge to look into how it benefited from slavery

King's College Chapel at the University of Cambridge, which will investigate its links to slavery.

(CNN)Academics at the University of Cambridge will spend two years investigating its links to slavery during Britain's colonial era, and how it may have benefited.

The inquiry will focus on university archives and other records, digging for evidence of how the institution may have gained from slavery and the exploitation of labor, either financially or through bequests, according to a press release.
"There is growing public and academic interest in the links between the older British universities and the slave trade, and it is only right that Cambridge should look into its own exposure to the profits of coerced labor during the colonial period," said Professor Stephen J. Toope, vice-chancellor at the University of Cambridge, in the release.
Toope has appointed an eight-member advisory group headed by Professor Martin Millett, the Laurence Professor of Classical Archaeology, and research will be carried out by two full-time researchers based at the Center of African Studies.
    The university will also look into whether it influenced public opinion on race-based thinking.
    "We cannot know at this stage what exactly it will find but it is reasonable to assume that, like many large British institutions during the colonial era, the University will have benefited directly or indirectly from, and contributed to, the practices of the time," said Millett in the press release.
    The inquiry will also look at how scholars from the university may have shaped opinions on race from the 18th to the early 20th century, supporting, reinforcing and sometimes contesting racial attitudes which are repugnant today, according to Millett.