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IEA: 30 years in line with science, culture and society

by Richard Meckien - published Oct 26, 2016 12:05 PM - - last modified Oct 31, 2016 09:25 AM
Rights: Original version in Portuguese by Mauro Bellesa.

Lançamento da 1º edição da revista "Estudos Avançados" - 18/12/1987
Alfredo Bosi (left), Gerhard Malnic (interviewed by Rádio USP) and José Goldemberg launching the journal Estudos Avançados in December, 1987.

The IEA celebrated the 30th anniversary of its creation, which occurred in the first year of Brazil's return to democracy, on October 29.

The Democratic Opening, final phase of the dictatorship, enabled a number of changes at USP. Professors who had been compulsorily retired by Institutional Act No. 5 in 1969 were amnestied and able to rejoin University. The Professors' Association of USP (ADUSP) was created in 1976 together with the Student Center Directory (DCE) getting reactivated. In 1979, the Employers' Association of USP (AFUSP, currently SINTUSP) started to work as a union. These three entities organized the 1st and 2nd Congresses of USP (in 1980 and 1984, respectively) in order to discuss the structure and governance of the University.

The IEA began its activities in this context of gradual transformation of institutions, expansion of democratic freedoms and reconstruction of the post-dictatorship Brazilian society through an order of the then rector José Goldemberg. The idea had already been discussed in various forums, such as ADUSP and the 2nd Congress of USP, and by a study group specially created for this purpose.

The creation of the IEA is part of a broad movement of cultural and social revitalization, as exemplified by other initiatives which arose in 1986, such as the Companhia das Letras publishing house, the Caderno 2 section of the newspaper O Estado de São Paulo, the Nova Escola magazine and the SOS Atlantic Forest Foundation.

During these 30 years, numerous activities have been undertaken by programs, areas, projects, research groups, study groups, professors and researchers (members of research groups, visiting professors, honorary professors and professors on sabbatical).

International affairs, environment, education, human rights, molecular sciences, Mercosur, free trade, public health, Amazon, food security, constitutional reform, climate change, governance system, biodiversity, democracy and capital-labor relations found a favorable space for interdisciplinary debate.

Noan Chonsky
Noan Chonsky was one of the Institute's conferencists for its 10th anniversay in November, 1996.

The importance of the role played by the journal Estudos Avançados throughout the history of the Institute must also be highlighted. Launched in late 1987, the publication is reaching its 88th issue and became the most consulted journal in SciELO (Scientific Electronic Library Online) last year.

Current days

To be advanced is to explore the future. That is why the Institute is always looking for new opportunities and formats for the encouragement of research and the debate of ideas.

In recent years, one of the guidelines has been to achieve a higher degree of internationalization. This has been possible with the establishment of the UBIAS network (University-Based Institutes for Advanced Study), of which the IEA is a founding member, in 2010. Currently, the Institute is one of the vice-coordinators of the network, which brings together 37 institutes of advanced studies linked to universities from all continents.

In April 2015 and in March 2016, the IEA and the Nagoya University's Institute for Advanced Research (IAR) held the two phases of the first edition of the Intercontinental Academia, first joint activity between UBIAS members. 13 researchers aged under 40, and coming from different countries and areas of expertise, had a working theme ("Time") to be addressed in its various concepts in science and culture.

Another recent initiative was the implementation of the 2016 Sabbatical Year Program, through which USP researchers can leave their usual activities in their units of origin to devote themselves to a specific project at the Institute for six months or a year.

Also this year, the Olavo Setubal Chair of Arts, Culture and Science, sponsored by the Itaú Cultural Institute, was inaugurated. Its first occupant is sociologist and philosopher Sergio Paulo Rouanet.

However, as recalled by the director of the Institute, Paulo Saldiva, "when speaking of the IEA's challenges we are speaking of the University's challenges." For him, in addition to dialogue with society, there is a natural challenge to "produce better quality knowledge, combat fundamentalisms of any kind and try to solve complex problems by questioning in all areas of knowledge."

With these goals in mind, the IEA has added four new thematic programmes to the agenda of the year of its 30th anniversary.

The first one is the USP Global Cities Program, already underway and which aims to bring together researchers of the university that can contribute to improving the quality of life in metropolitan areas, with the initial focus on São Paulo.

The Advanced Seminar of Policy Leadership Formation should be launched in early 2017 with the intention of collaborating with the preparation of political actors with credibility and knowledge sufficient to confront the critical issues in Brazilian society.

The third priority initiative for the 2016-2020 period is to induce discussions that make USP move from object to be transformed to the transforming agent. It is expected that the IEA becomes a reference center on processes and changing perspectives of the University, and at the same time the incubator of innovative initiatives with regard to the participation of the University in the transformation of society.

Lançamento do Projeto Cidades Globais
From the left: Fábio Feldmann, Wilson Jacob Filho (USP's School of Medicine), Vahan Agopyan (vice president at USP), Fernando Haddad (mayor of São Paulo), Paulo Saldiva (director of the IEA) and Marcos Buckeridge (IEA) launching the USP Global Cities Program on July 13.

The creation of a study center on new learning methodologies geared to middle and high school is the fourth guideline. The goal is to integrate educators, professors, scientists, students, game designers and other professionals in creating more effective digital resources for the learning process of young people.

The IEA is always changing, and it could not be different for an institution that works with science, culture and priorities for the development of the country.

The achievements in 30 years are numerous and extremely diverse. They constitute a past of contributions to USP and society. The IEA is proud of everything that has been done, for in all it has pursued goals linked to perennial commitments from its foundation in 1986.

This consistency is the platform that enables the Institute to head to the future, a task that requires creativity, boldness and determination in line with the priorities of each moment. Because, as said by a recent winner of the Nobel Prize, "times are a-changin".

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