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PROLAM Programa de Pós-Graduação Integração da América Latina Universidade de São Paulo
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THE PROGRAM, EVOLUTIONARY PERSPECTIVES AND TRENDS

The Latin America’s Integration Inter-Units Graduate Program – Prolam/USP is theme-based and interdisciplinary. It is composed by professors of the University of São Paulo who develop activities in research, teaching and extension about the theoretical and practical aspects of different dimensions of Latin America’s integration processes.
The methodological guidelines are outlined by the Program’s Graduate Commission around three axes of investigation in the area of humanities and applied social sciences: Society, Economy and State; International Relations and Political Practices; Communication and Culture. Each line of research is composed by two research projects, which are: Communication and Culture – Communication in Latin America, and Artistic and cultural production in Latin America; Society, Economy and State – Public policies in the field of work, education and health, and Urban planning, metropolitan development and urban management in Latin America; International Relations and Political Practices – Political relations and practices in Latin America, and International Relations.
Prolam/USP’s mission is to produce knowledge about Latin American reality under the social, economic, political, educational and cultural dimensions through comparative methodology applied to at least two countries in Latin America, or a common theme for the countries of the region. Since 2015, PROLAM/USP is administratively linked to ECA – School of Communication and Arts. ECA’s inter and transdisciplinary experience is perfectly aligned with PROLAM/USP’s pedagogical project. In the context of graduate programs, PROLAM/USP seeks inter and transdisciplinary knowledge by congregating the different units composing it. Besides ECA, the Law School, the Architecture and Urban Planning School, the School of Philosophy, Sciences and Languages, the Education School, the Economics and Administration Schools of São Paulo and Ribeirão Preto, and the Psychology Institute, EACH – all from USP. Professors and students from different areas of knowledge contribute decisively, through their different activities, so that PROLAM/USP is able to make it possible to create a better understanding of the multidimensional aspects of Latin American reality.

PROLAM/USP’S MISSION

For a significant period of its existence, between 1988 and 2009, PROLAM/USP reported directly to the Office of the Dean for Graduate Studies of the University of São Paulo. Dean Prof. José Goldemberg created this modality of Graduate Program with two objectives that, up to the present, have been kept. The first one, of an aggregation and capacity-building character, aimed to create, in the University of São Paulo, an instance of academic-scientific reflection (teaching, research and extension) and train specialists in the theme of Latin American integration. This space of production of knowledge about the integration of Latin America, where USP showed a gap before foreign top universities, was created under the perspective of the area of humanities and applied social sciences. Besides, the construction of an institutional space with this purpose was also motivated by the region’s historical needs due to the acceleration of the process of structural changes in the end of the 1980’s, globalization and regional integration processes. The second goal, of a scientific and methodological character, aimed at building an interdisciplinary methodology to apprehend and understand Latin American processes in their different economic, political, social and cultural fields. The areas that constituted the primary core in formulating Prolam/USP’s guidelines were: International Law – Law School (FD/USP); Economics – Economics School, Business Administration and Accounting (FEA/USP); Sociology, Politics, Anthropology, History, Geography and Modern Languages – School of Philosophy, Languages and Human Sciences (FFLCH/USP); Urban and Regional Planning, History of Architecture and Design Aesthetics – School of Architecture and Urban Planning (FAU/USP); and Communication and Arts – School of Communication and Arts (ECA/USP). Later, in 1993, PROLAM/USP’s Graduate Studies Commission approved the Department of School Administration and Economics of Education of the School of Education (FE/USP), due to the engagement of this Department in related research. In 2003, the Graduate Studies Commission approved the inclusion of the Department of Economics of the School of Economics and Business Administration and Accounting of Ribeirão Preto (FEARP/USP), whose inclusion started in 2004, strengthening the research line of Political Practices and International Relations. In 2008, the Graduate Studies Commission approved the incorporation of representative of the School of Arts, Sciences and Humanities of the University of São Paulo (EACH/USP). And, in 2015, the incorporation of USP’s Institute of Psychology. The administrative incorporation of PROLAM/USP into ECA occurred in 2015, according to the new statutory and regimental rules of the University of São Paulo, which necessarily integrates inter-units programs into one of their composing units. At every moment, all changes proposed by the Graduate Commission have been considered convenient and duly approved by the Units involved and by the higher organizations of the University.

COMPOSITION OF PROLAM/USP

PROLAM/USP’s first selection process was held in January of 1989. It relied on the constitution of a faculty of 14 (fourteen) Advising Professors, most coming from the School of Philosophy, Languages and Human Sciences, who were qualified by their vast experience in the topic of Latin American integration. In March of that year, with 16 students enrolled – among which three foreigners – the activities of the Program started at the Masters level, under the coordination of Professor Irlemar Chiampi. The Masters in Latin America Integration was recommended by the Higher Education Personnel Improvement Coordination in 1990. As of 1992, the first theses began to be defended, following USP’s statute, which, at the time, stipulated a period of 05 (five) years to complete the course, with the possibility of an extension for 02 (two) more years. The inclusion of the Doctorate Studies was foreseen in 1993, according to Resolution no. 4.014, articles 12 and 14 of the Graduate Studies Commission of the Office of the Dean for Graduate Studies of the University of São Paulo, dated August 13 of that year, under Prof. Sedi Hirano’s coordination. In 1996, under Prof. Maria Cristina Cacciamali’s coordination, PROLAM/USP’s Graduate Studies Commission diagnosed the consolidation of the Master’s Program, once it accounted for 40 (forty) high quality theses defended; positive insertion of graduates in the academic community and in public and private organizations; a permanent faculty and defined research lines; and an expressive number of good quality publications. In face of that, the Graduate Studies Commission considered the moment was right and began to format the doctorate program project and the process of academic-administrative revision to support the dynamics of the two programs. The document of the project of the doctorate program was approved by the Graduate Studies Commission in May of 1997, obtained the approval of the Graduate Studies Council of the University in March of 1998 and, with the first selection process, started in October of that same year. The Doctorate Program was recommended by the Higher Education Personnel Improvement Coordination (Capes) in 09/22/2000.

RESTRUCTURING IN THE 1990’S

PROLAM/USP, then composed by Master’s and Doctorate programs, required academic and administrative revisions. These revisions accelerated from 1998 on and were guided towards the demands originating from the new institutionality of higher education being built for the University, as well as structural changes in Brazilian society. The 1998 revision main goals consisted in: raising the quality of scientific production; articulating research projects by providing more consistency to the development of the research lines; diminishing the time to award titles to students, engaging them more directly into ongoing research projects; and increasing PROLAM/USP’s national and international interfaces (internationalization).
At that moment, among the main methodological changes, for each research line were introduced levelling subjects (horizontal integration) with basic knowledge and methodology content. Additionally, the Graduate Studies Commission programed other measures and actions, such as incentives to scientific production and its disclosure through publications recognized by the scientific community; support to the participation of faculty and students in encounters, seminars and congresses, especially international ones; the construction of institutional interfaces with universities in Brazil and abroad; the increase in the participation of students in research groups/projects of their advisors to diminish title awarding periods; and the participation in internships and sandwich scholarship programs by doctoral students. Management activities were also reshaped in order to speed up and support academic – scientific activities. The main measures taken were: systematizing internal rules and procedures; operationalizing administrative-academic routines; amplifying information technology resources available at PROLAM/USP; applying a permanent assessment process; and implementing an efficient system for documents and information flow and records.
Following these guidelines and deepening administrative, didactic and research actions, in May of 2016 the PROLAM/USP community is composed by: Graduate Studies Commission represented by six professors from different areas and their supply teachers, and one representative of the students and their substitute. The faculty is formed by 22 permanent professors (among which are the members of the Graduate Studies Commission) and 7 collaborating professors; 44 students enrolled in the Master’s program; 36 students in the doctorate program; and the administrative team of 3 employees. Up to the present moment, PROLAM has awarded titles to 411 students, being 304 masters and 107 PhDs. The Program has also been hosting post-doctoral students.
PROLAM/USP’s institutional and academic assessment was originally carried out by the Assessment Committee of the Sociology Area of the Higher Education Personnel Improvement Coordination (CAPES) of the Ministry of Education (MEC). In the triennial assessment of 2007, the Committee recommended to change the assessment area to the Multidisciplinary Committee, for two reasons – the Program did not have the structure of social Sciences courses due to its interdisciplinary character; and 67% of the Program’s faculty developed their academic and scientific careers in other areas of Humanities and Applied Social Sciences. The proposal to change the Assessment Committee to the Interdisciplinary Committee was appreciated by faculty and students, and by PROLAM/USP’s Graduate Studies Commission, which deemed it pertinent and appropriate, approving it unanimously. The Office of the Dean for Graduate Studies confirmed the convenience of the change. Thus, as of 2008, nearly twenty years after it was created, PROLAM/USP inserts itself in institutional undergraduate and graduate programs appropriate and consistent with the interdisciplinary perspective of its pedagogical and scientific proposal in approaching the topic of Latin American integration.