Brazil Search for Alternatives
The Search for Alternatives
In the "search for alternatives" period in the 1930s,
political centralization and the first attempt to provide Brazil
with modern administrative, military, and educational institutions
took place. The main initiatives included the University
of São Paulo (Universidade de São Paulo--USP),
which was created in 1934 as the country's first university. Its
nucleus was a School of Philosophy, Sciences, and Letters, with
professors coming from France, Italy, Germany, and other European
countries. The USP also brought together several research and higher
education institutions in the state, such as the School of Medicine
(Faculdade de Medicina), the Polytechnical School (Escola Politécnica),
and the School of Law
(Faculdade de Direito). (The Polytechnical School includes civil,
electrical, mechanical, mining, metallurgical, naval and oceanographic,
and chemical engineering departments.) The USP became and still
is Brazil's main academic and research institution. Along the same
pattern, a national university, the University of Brazil (Universidade
do Brasil), was created in Rio
de Janeiro in 1939. Today, it is called the Federal University
of Rio de Janeiro (Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro--UFRJ).
A third university created in Rio de Janeiro in 1935, the University
of the Federal District (Universidade do Distrito Federal), was
closed down by the federal government a few years later.
This model of institutional modernization was also applied to the
rest of the country. Except for the USP and a few sectors at the
UFRJ, however, the philosophy schools (Faculdades de Filosofia)
functioned as teacher colleges and conducted little or no research.
The traditional professional schools remained independent and dedicated
to their traditional degree-granting activities.
Deep conceptual differences between the USP and the University
of Brazil help to explain the different institutional development.
The São Paulo elites created the USP as part of an emerging
tradition of cultural enlightenment. By contrast, the University
of Brazil was the product of a centralized and authoritarian government,
under the direct influence of the more conservative sectors of the
Roman Catholic Church.
The first institutions for technological research were created
in the 1930s. They included the National Institute of Technology
(Instituto Nacional de Tecnologia--INT) in Rio de Janeiro and the
Institute for Technological Research (Instituto de Pesquisas Tecnológicas--IPT)
Paulo. They were supposed to provide technical support to an
emerging national industry. The INT was involved in the first studies
on the use of sugar cane alcohol for engine combustion and coal
from Santa Catarina State for the steel industry.
Economic nationalism became dominant by the end of the 1930s. The
1934 Code of Mines declared as government property all resources
under the soil; the first steel plant, the National Iron and Steel
Company (Companhia Siderúrgica Nacional--CSN), was established
in Volta Redonda in 1942, with United States support, and was linked
to Brazil's entry into World War II; oil exploration became a state
monopoly, and restrictions were placed on foreign and national private
As the federal administration became more centralized and bureaucratized,
some of its research institutions suffered. The Oswaldo Cruz Foundation
went through a crisis for lack of autonomy and support. The INT
gradually turned into an agency that merely provided training courses
for the public bureaucracy.
Data as of April 1997