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2016-2020 Management Program

by Richard Meckien - published Jun 07, 2016 03:25 PM - - last modified Jun 15, 2016 10:15 AM
Rights: Translation by Artemis Romano.

Paulo Saldiva - PerfilGuilherme Ary Plonski - Perfil




Director Paulo Saldiva and deputy director Guilherme Ary Plonski, responsible for formulating the 2016-2020 management program for the Institute.

The IEA intends to strengthen its triple academic function as a place of critical reflection, a sensor of advancements in the international frontier of knowledge and an incubator of propositional ideas over the 2016-2020 tenure. Given the breadth of its interfaces with all areas of USP, the IEA intends to expand its role to encourage the convergence of different sorts of knowledge, trying to analyze complex issues from a multidisciplinary perspective and prototyping innovative models of contributory intervention to better deal with the major challenges of society.

During the first three decades of operation, the IEA was primarily attended by eminent professors with established careers. We understand that the IEA is mature to merge renowned researchers with professors and students in the process of consolidating their careers and vocations, combining wisdom with energy, experience and dream. An important step in this direction was taken during the tenure of Professor Martin Grossmann (2012-2016), with the creation of the Sabbatical Year Program in partnership with the Dean of Research. After a thorough evaluation process, six professors have been selected to bring new ideas and their oriented students to the Institute.

Aiming to broaden the policy of welcoming new researchers at the IEA, the current administration proposes four new initiatives at once, which are briefly described below.

1) Advanced Seminars for the Training of Political Leaderships

Brazil needs more leaders with credibility and sufficient knowledge for dealing with critical issues. The negative consequences of this scenario are too obvious and to describe them in their entirety is beyond the scope of this document. In our better understanding, the current political parties fail in the process of preparing leaderships with training and extensive knowledge about the big issues that are vital to the development of Brazil. To address complex challenges such as Energy, Sanitation, Environment, Logistics, Labour, Housing, Education, Health and Culture, among others, it is highly desirable that the future leaders of our nation are exposed to all fields of knowledge that make up the necessary framework for making decisions based on the best knowledge. Initiatives such as the Harvard Kennedy School of Government have proven themselves successful, but are far from the peculiarities of Brazil and Latin America. Our proposition is that the IEA shelters people with significant potential to take over leadership positions in society during the initial period of one year (semi-immersive process). They will be exposed to the full range of variables related to the management of complex and important issues for the formulation of public policies for the progress of our nation, drawing on the wealth of knowledge available at USP's units. More specifically, the activities of this initiative should be centered on two axes. The first one should be dedicated to hold seminars and discussions every two weeks in order to address and discuss central aspects of democratic management and republican principles that are necessary for achieving successful state policies. The second axis should be based on the development of more specific projects by the participants. As an example, we can take the issue of urban mobility, where the participants would be exposed to experts from different areas of knowledge that are relevant to the subject, such as urban planning, zoning, automotive, railway and subway engineering, fuels, air and noise pollution, human behavior, public safety and management, among others. It is expected that after being exposed to this wide range of information the participants can prepare a synthesis that favors the agreements and proposes policies that integrate the greatest virtues within the limits of feasibility.

The seminars will be led by Professor José Álvaro Moisés and further tutors, all professors at USP, to be defined from the topics of interest of the participants. In the first year of operation, the program should involve 10 participants, three doctoral students, three master students and three undergraduate students.

2) Studies on urbanity and quality of life

Cities offer opportunities to human beings and may cause deterioration of life quality at the same time. It can be said that cities are a unique ecosystem, which turns into important determinants of health issues such as access to basic services, mobility, climate, energy sources, and land use and occupation. In part, the metropolitan areas of São Paulo can be considered natural laboratories for the study of the problems and solutions of megacities. At the same time, the University of São Paulo has research groups with solid knowledge in all areas that affect the quality of life in the urban environment. In this sense, we propose the creation of a space for dialogue and convergence of all stakeholders in proposing scientific studies and research aimed at life improvement of the inhabitants of the metropolitan areas. This proposal is in line with a global movement that seeks to strengthen the relationship between universities and the cities where they are located.

The center will be coordinated by Professor Marcos Buckeridge and expects to count with three postdocs, three PhD students and two master students.

3) From the transformation of the University to a transformative University

Is the University an institution or an organization? An organization wants to perpetuate itself, but only an institution can also get other influential sectors of society to consider that it is vital for the social set. To be recognized as an institution goes well beyond getting a highlighted position in the increasingly numerous classifications (rankings). In particular, what is the University of São Paulo? Do the São Paulo and / or Brazilian societies consider it vital, necessary and indispensable? How to create - or increase - this conviction?

Several innovative models, such as the entrepreneurial university, are being implemented to enhance the production of knowledge and its transposition, articulating the role of the university in the process of economic, social and cultural development in a context of rapidly changing societies. The IEA has been the locus of successive and important studies, events, proposals and publications on the development and prospects of the university in general and particularly of USP. Our proposal has two complementary focuses.

The first one is to make a reference center out of the Institute, perhaps in an observatory format, consolidating initiatives aimed at the deep understanding of the processes and perspectives of transformation of the University that thrive in the very IEA or other USP spaces, such as the Universidade em Movimento ("University in Motion"). This center will naturally connect with groups, organizations and networks which support common objectives in Brazil and abroad. The second focus is to incubate innovative initiatives of USP as a University that transforms society. One example is making the IEA a USP connection channel with the Legislative Houses (Legislative Assembly of the State, Congress and City Councils of the municipalities where there is a campus), in line with joint actions naturally exercised by the President's Office. The specific purpose of the IEA is to contribute to the qualification of the legislation on capital issues, such as health and education, generating jobs and income, sanitation and environment, energy and transport, public safety and food security, sustainability and social emancipation through the internalization of abundant and properly transposed academic knowledge within USP. Potential partners in the Chamber of Deputies are the Council of Higher Studies and Technology Assessment (CAEAT) and the Center for Studies and Strategic Debates (CEDES), while in the Legislative Assembly of São Paulo the focal point can be the São Paulo Legislative Institute.

4) Study Group on new learning methodologies focused on middle and high school

Perhaps the biggest challenge to be faced by Brazil is to increase learning efficiency of our youth. Although the educational performance indicators have come forward in recent years, this improvement is still slow and unequally distributed in the country. Digital resources have been proposed as important for accelerating and increasing efficiency of the learning process. The Ministry of Education's Portal do Professor has plenty of digital content to support learning. In discussions with various experts of the field, this content is apparently not fully effective, probably due to the nature of its design. Just as an e-book is still a book, classes and expository content continue to be little interactive and challenging for the students of today, in spite of being redesigned by electronic media. All who work as teachers in different educational levels notice that the learning process of today is governed by new ways of mental processing, most likely generated by the early exposure to digital media. It is as if the process of knowledge transmission, initially based on orality and followed by reading, has been dominated by something that could be defined by cyber city. In other words, it is like a school designed according to the 19th century with teachers of the 20th century having to adapt to a student of the 21st century. Given this scenario, there are several international and local attempts that seek to take advantage of the digital language to facilitate the current youth learning process. Educational games and interactive lessons could be techniques to bring the student to a reality to which they are accustomed. Roughly, one could try to reproduce what FUNBEC (Brazilian Foundation for the Development of Science Education) has been in the past to a multifunctional device, creating virtual spaces for literacy, developing logical reasoning and recovering the fascination for science. The task itself is not trivial for requiring the convergence of various actors, including educators, teachers, scientists, students, game designers and others. The IEA proposes to create an environment for the dialogue between the aforementioned areas in order to explore the possibility of creating something similar to FUNBEC, this time set in cyber space.

We intend to bring together professors, three doctoral students and five undergraduate students. Coordination will be in charge of Hamilton Varela.

5) Other goals

Besides the indicators presented above, the IEA foresees doubling the production of scientific papers, and a 30% increase in the number of international collaborators and resources from research projects by the end of four years.