As transformações das universidades e da cooperação internacional|Changing universities and academic outreach

Changing universities and academic outreach. Paper for the  prepared for the New Century Scholar’s program, Fulbright Commission, 2009-2010. Preliminary version, for comments only.

Abstract:  Academic international cooperation between US and Western Europe and developing countries reached its peak in the 1960s and 1970s, through a combination of increased support for higher education, science and technology in the US and Europe; the economic development and modernization drives of former colonial and developing countries; and the foreign policy of he US and Western Europe during the cold war years. Already in the 1980s, however, it had lost much of its priority, due to a succession of failures of international cooperation, a growing skepticism about the promises of modernization, a growing concern with issues of poverty and human rights, and the expansion of private higher education and the priority given to globalization and international competitiveness by the major universities in the US and elsewhere.

This essay describes this development with a special emphasis on the links between the US and Latin America, and discusses the issues associated with the current trends.   It concludes that truly cooperative undertakings are needed, and require stable, competent and reliable patterns on both sides, recreating the global epistemic communities that could provide the basis for their permanence. Given the differences in wealth and competency, these North-South links will never be fully symmetrical regarding resources and knowledge transfer, but they should be as symmetrical as possible in terms of the genuine effort of each side to understand the needs, the conditions and the perspectives of the other.

As transformações das universidades e da cooperação internacional (em inglês). Texto preparado para o New Century Scholar Program da Comissão Fulbright. Versão preliminar, para somente comentários.

Sumário: A cooperação acadêmica internacional entre os Estados Unidos, e Europa Ocidental e os países em desenvolvimento atingiu seu auge nos anos 60 e 70,  por uma combinação de fatores como o amumento do apoio dos governos ocidentais à educação sueprior e à pesquisa,  a busca de desenvolvimento econômico e modernização por parte das antigas colônias e os países em desenvolvimento, e a política externa dos países ocidentais nos anos de guerra fria.  Já na década de 80, no entnato, este tipo de cooperação havia perdido prioridade, graças ao ceticismo crescente em relação às metas de desenvolvimento e modernização, à preocupação crsescente com os temas da pobreza e dos direitos humanos, e a expansão do ensino superior privado, e a preocupação crescente com a globalização e a competitividade internacional por parte das principais universidades americanas e européoas

Este ensaio narra estes desenvolvimentos, com ênfase nas relações entre os Estados Unidos e a América Latina, e discute os temas associados a estas novas tendências. A conclusão é que atividades de cooperação internacional continuam sendo importantes e necessárias, e requerem parceiros estáveis, competentes e confiáveis dos dois lados, que possam recriar as comunidades epistêmicas que são  a base de sua permanência. Dadas as diferenças de renda e capacitação, as relações entre países do norte e do sul nunca serão simétricas em termos de transferência de conhecimentos, mas precisam ser tão simétricas quanto possível em termos do esforço genuino de cada parte de entender as necessidades, as condições e as perspectivas de cada um.

Author: Simon Schwartzman

Simon Schwartzman é sociólogo, falso mineiro e brasileiro. Vive no Rio de Janeiro

4 thoughts on “As transformações das universidades e da cooperação internacional|Changing universities and academic outreach”

  1. Hello Simon.


    The last sentence of the Summary is unclear. It seems to be saying that nations (of the north) that produce lots of new knowledge and that train large numbers of scientists should (where possible) transfer such information and trained personnel to nations that are poorer (the south), or to facilitate (pay for) training nationals of the south in universities of the north.

    Regarding the transfer of knowledge: most new research findings are published in journals, usually in English. Is the English language a problem?

    Regarding persnnel: Is it suggested that the north should send scientists to the south and pay for them to work there? This might work if such scientists would something to gain besides money. New knowledge from the south?

    A personal comment: as you know, Simon, I [north] have done quite a lot of research in Brazil [south]. I did it for two reasons. The first was that the experience of Brazil was ideal for learning how stratification systems work. In other words, for my own benefit. The fact that some of my work was used by Brazilian authorities to make certain policy changes was flattering. But I didn’t do it to help Brazil. The second was that at Wisconsin we had a good many smart Brazilians doing doctoral work with us (most of them paid by Brazil). I continued working with them in Brazil partly to help legitimize their efforts there–efforts that because of their sociological training, were both unique and quite useful for Brazil. And partly because I needed their help……When a well-known sociologist returned to Sao Paulo no one he was connected with had any idea of the value of his expertize. So to feed his family he taught undergraduates in several schools. The Ford Foundation then put up competitive grant money for Brazilians. This sociologist won one of them. That’s how he got his famous social mobility research done. Helcio Saraiva and Dave Hansen [then working in RGS] were the other winners. All three went on to do significant research, teaching and administative work. And as time went on I was lucky to work with this sociologist and Murillo Macedo in the Ministry of Labor, and later on with others like my doctoral student, Manoel Tourniho, from whom I also learned a lot that helped to understand how Brazil works. Still later, a few years ago Neuma Aguiar asked me to help her at UFMG. During my time there CNPq provided a lot of my support–north paid by south.)) The mystery about all my time away from Wisconsin, including seven Fulbright trips, is why my university didn’t object to my long stays away from the campus. The other mystery is that the US Federal Government was willing to put so much money into so many trips to Brazil. I’m really puzzled. Maybe the US and Brazil found my activity reports to the Fulbright office in Brasilia useful. I had a strict rule of never, never passing any other information about Brazil to the US or about the US to Brazil. And I came to know a lot of things about Brazil from my friends and from what I could see with my own eyes that could have been of interest to people like those in the State Department. That sort of information-gathering was the business of Embassy people who were paid to get it. I wasn’t. Only once did a US Embassy rep ask me what was going on (actually it was a strike in Belo Horizonte). I told him to read the next morning’s headlines in the local newspapers. The results of my Brazil research were published in English language journals (exceptions: a couple of pieces in Portuguese in the 1990s, in connection with teaching in Brazil). To the best of my memory, no one else ever asked me to publish Brazil research in Portuguese (though I often lectured in Portuguese). On the contrary, my Brazilian colleagues preferred that I publish in English, I guess because they thought no one would pay any attention to such materials if they were in Portuguese. So what’s the point?: I really don’t understand what the Summary was supporting. And it looks like whatever I have been involved in doesn’t fit the Summary’s assumptions very well. What do you think?

    Como sempre


    1. Dear Arch,thank you very much for your note. I think your experience is a good example of international cooperation at its best: you did what made sense for you professionally, you helped to establish a network of researchers in the US and Brazil, and you were supported by institutions that valued international cooperation on both sides. This is, I believe, the meaning of the sentence at the end of the abstract, which I don’t find difficult to undersand (but I may be wrong

  2. A relação das nações desenvolvidas, ou melhor, imperialistas com os países periféricos existem no sentido dos últimos aprofundarem sua dependência em relação aos primeiros, aceitando, cordialmente, o que eles acham que é o melhor para a sua economia e área social.

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