Call for improved Brand

June 7, 1996

Edinburgh University has warned that one of its lecturers, "scientific racist" Chris Brand, could face disciplinary action if he does not change his teaching style.

Mr Brand has been the object of boycotts by psychology students since a storm over his book The g Factor led to its withdrawal by publishers, John Wiley & Sons, on the eve of publication.

Wiley claimed that some of Mr Brand's assertions, which include the claim that black people are less intelligent than whites, were "repellent".

Now an investigation by Edinburgh's dean of social sciences, Neil MacCormick, has concluded that Mr Brand has been fair and impartial in assessing students' work.

But the university says that he will be expected to "modify his style of teaching" to ensure mutual respect between teacher and student, and a balanced and competent presentation and critical evaluation of what is taught.

Professor MacCormick has written to Mr Brand to say his conduct could lead to formal complaints of personal harrassment in the future, which might lead to proceedings.

Professor MacCormick has given Brand two "directives". The first is to avoid intruding into the personal lives and particularly the sex lives, of the students. Mr Brand claims that this relates to research he helped third-year students with some time ago.

He has also been told to make his lectures more structured, by using overhead projector slides and printed handouts. Brand objects that this type of teaching is "spoon-feeding". "Generally speaking I decline to provide this," he said.

But he said that he switched to such teaching methods last August when he acquired a university computer and therefore he would not need to change his activities any further to comply with the order.

He said about the two directives: "I can't see that there is anything that I am going to need to change."

Mr Brand refused to participate in the inquiry because he disagreed with its parameters, saying it lacked boundaries and students could report to the inquiry in confidence.

The students' representative council had called for Mr Brand to be permanently suspended from teaching, but the report says other lecturers should be brought in to supplement rather than replace Mr Brand. This "aims to secure a greater diversity of styles and approaches in relation, particularly, to controversial topics such as intelligence and personality", the university said.

Edinburgh principal Sir Stewart Sutherland said the disciplinary code called for academics to carry out such reasonable duties as they were assigned by their head of department, and if Mr Brand ignored this, he would be in breach of contract. He described as "obnoxious" Mr Brand's views that suggested individuals could not better themselves through education.

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