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Brazilian Debates

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Event information




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Event description

PUC-Rio started in July 2020 to offer a series of panels on different topics about Brazilian Issues, and new ones are coming.

Discussions have involved current themes being debated by PUC-Rio professors from different Departments bringing in different approaches to the topic.

Sessions are conducted in English and each panel takes approximately 50 minutes. Each event allows the interaction between panelists and audience previously enrolled. If you have missed any of them, just check the recordings which are available below. Don´t miss our next debates!



April 29th - The Covid-19 pandemic and its social impacts in Brazil

Speakers: Ana Paula Soares (Sociology) and Bruno Scarpellini (Medical school)

Thirteen months after the official declaration of the pandemics by the WHO, Brazil is the epitome of social disarray caused not only by the virus but also by the poor management of the crisis. Denialism, irresponsibility, and lack of a unified strategy to fight COVID-19 led us to the brink of collapse, deepening tragic historic traits and trends that mark our society. In this session, we’ll discuss how this pandemic reinforced social and racial inequalities and impacted education, threatening the advances made in the past three decades, and how these outcomes can threaten our future. Moreover, we´ll discuss the impact of COVID-19 disease and post-COVID-19 syndrome on mental health, productivity, health economics, and early retirement of patients and healthcare professionals.

Recording not available


November 26th - Rights, social dynamics, and the favelas of Rio de Janeiro
Speakers: Angela Randolpho Paiva (Sociology) and Rafael Soares Gonçalves (Social Work)

There has been strong participation of civil society since the end of the 1970s in the demand for democracy. Latency of several forms of inequality came to the fore when the new Constitution was being written in 1987/88. It is important to analyze the social dynamics that were present in the public sphere demanding old and new rights. That has also meant tension between the new mindset and conservative forces. We will focus on the case of the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. They have existed since the middle of the 19th century and are part of the city's history and landscape. Most Rio's favela residents are black and brown, and in rich neighborhoods this historic racial and social segregation is even more visible. Rio's favelas face significant challenges, but they are also dynamic communities with diverse forms of social activism and mobilization.


October 29th - Brazilian Foreign Policy Today
Speakers: Andrea Ribeiro Hoffmann (Institute of International Relations) and Monica Herz (Institute of International Relations)

This presentation will discuss the changes of Brazilian foreign policy in the current administration, in particular, within multilateral institutions at the global and regional (Latin American) levels. Furthermore, it will discuss the resistance to these changes, and the activism of civil society actors such as NGOs in these multilateral institutions, focusing on the areas of human rights and climate change.


September 29th - COVID-19 Pandemic: Challenges for Education
Speakers: Gustavo Robichez (Distance Education) and Zena Eisenberg (Education)

The pandemic the world has experienced in the past months has had great impact on education and students’ access to academic learning. At PUC-Rio, we have not interrupted our activities, unlike other universities, but have been conducting online classes and learning how to do it and how to improve our skills. On the other side of the screen are the students, who have been suffering the loss of neighbors, relatives and parents, or who have suffered from increased anxiety and depression, from loneliness, helplessness, and who struggle to keep up with online classes. Those struggles include financial, internet connection, technological limitations, among others. Psychopedagogical support – as well as psychological – has been crucial in helping them deal with, and surpass those hurdles. We will discuss the university's strategy in dealing with the pandemic, the choice of complementary technologies that could facilitate the process of engaging teachers, students and staff, and what actions were developed to establish, guide and improve existing procedures.


August 13th – Contemporary Challenges to Brazilian Democracy: Media, Politics and Populism
Speakers: Alessandra Maia (Political Science) and Arthur Ituassu (Social Communication)

In order to improve knowledge about the political arena and public opinion in Brazil, the debate will present a general context to address the role of media and its specificities. The final aim will be to establish parameters that allow discussing the recent threat of populism in the country


August 6th – Planning Cities in uncertain times
Speakers: Bruno Magalhães (International Relations) and Ricardo Esteves (Architecture)

Cities have been the habitat of human species for the past ten thousand years or so. And it seems to remain like this despite technological advances and environmental restraints. To plan is to draw futures, based not only upon projections and tendencies but mainly on expectations held by individuals, communities and the human society as a whole. The presence of uncertainty makes planning Cities an exercise of processes rather than products. There is no ending for planning processes since the horizon is always ahead.  In these pandemic times, uncertainty has come to the mainstream. What sort of environmental structures will be necessary to Cities, in the short, medium and long terms, to cope with the post-pandemic reality? What is, after all, the so called "new normal"? Or what will it be?  And what are the political, social and economic policies, which are needed to build this new scenario. These are the challenges for those who have Cities as their main concern, in the brink of a post-quarantine world.


July 30th – Renewable, non-renewable and sustainability
Speakers: Rodrigo Penna-Firme (Geography) and Sergio Fontoura (Civil Engineering)

As the world's population increases and more people move into cities, humanity is facing a dramatic rise in demand for energy. We are told that to meet these needs, renewables are the safest and cleanest way out of fossil fuels, which are perceived as evil for society. In this debate we ask whether such claims are true and the consequences of adopting energy policies and markets that ban fossil fuels, while embracing renewables as the only way out. Emphasis will be given to the Brazilian case.


July 23rd - Social Inclusion in Brazil: old and new challenges
Speakers: Ana Paula Soares (Sociology) and Márcia Nina Bernardes (Law)

Brazil is known to be one of the most unequal countries in the world. This level of inequality relates to the Brazilian social and State formation since slavery. The efforts made since the last decades of the 20th century to promote social inclusion and tackle extreme poverty and profound inequalities, yet noteworthy, were insufficient to transform Brazilian society at a deeper level. A decolonial approach to these processes may shed interesting light on current developments, such as police brutality against the black population, mass incarceration, corruption, and impunity, as well as the setbacks in the incipient Brazilian welfare and social inclusion programs.


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Guest speakers:

Prof. Alessandra Maia
Assistant Professor of Political Theory at PUC-Rio. PhD in Social Sciences (DSocSci). Associate Researcher and Assistant Professor at the Laboratory of Elections, Parties and Comparative Politics (LAPPCOM) at the Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRRJ).

Prof. Ana Paula Soares Carvalho
Professor who holds a degree in Social Sciences from the Federal University of Paraná (2004), a Masters degree in Sociology from the University Research Institute of Rio de Janeiro (2005) and a Doctorate in Sociology from the Institute of Social and Political Studies (IESP-UERJ) (2012). She is currently an Adjunct Professor at the Social Sciences Department of the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio), a researcher at the Center of Studies and Projects for the City (Central), and coordinator of the Social Sciences subproject of PUC-Rio's Institutional Program for Teaching Initiation Scholarships (PIBID).

Prof. Andrea Ribeiro Hoffmann
Professor of International Relations at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio). She has a Doctorate in Political Science/International Relations from the Eberhard-Karls Universität Tübingen, Germany. She was a visiting scholar at the London School of Economics (2008-2010), University of Erfurt (2010-2012) and Free University of Berlin (2012-2015). Her research focuses on Comparative Regionalism, Inter-regionalism, and Legitimacy and Democracy at the Global Level. Among her latest publications are: Democracy Questions Informal Global Governance. International Studies Review, 2019 (with Monica Herz); Negotiating normative premises in democracy promotion: Venezuela and the Inter-American Democratic Charter. Democratization, 2019; Silences and hierarchies in European Union Public Diplomacy. Revista Brasileira de Política Internacional, 2018 (with Paula Sandrin).

Prof. Angela Randolpho Paiva
Associate professor of Sociology in the Graduate Program of Social Sciences at the Department Social Sciences, PUC-Rio. She is the coordinator of the research group "Rights, Recognition and Inequality" - GEDRED where she is the advisor of several PhD candidates. She has done research on human rights, contemporary social moviments and race relations with several publications on these topics.

Prof. Arthur Ituassu
Professor of Political Communication at PUC-Rio. PhD. in International Relations (IRI). Associate Researcher at the Brazilian National Institute of Science and Technology for Digital Democracy (INCT-DD). Former Vice-President (2015-2017) and President (2017-2019) of the Brazilian Association of Researchers in Communication and Politics (COMPOLÍTICA).

Prof. Bruno Magalhães
Associated professor at the International Relations Institute of the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (IRI, PUC-Rio) and an executive director of PUC-Rio's Digital Humanities Laboratory (#dhLab, PUC-Rio). He was also a postdoctoral visiting fellow at the University of Amsterdam, as a member of erC-funded 'project Follow, led by Professor Marieke de Goede. He holds a Phd in Political Science and International Studies from the Open University, UK.

Prof. Bruno Scarpellini
Infectologist and Epidemiologist with Residency in Infectious Diseases (National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Fiocruz). Master in Public Health, Department of Epidemiology, Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH), University of Pittsburgh. PhD in Infectious Diseases by Escola Paulista de Medicina, UNIFESP. Fellow American College of Physicians. Associate Researcher at the Retrovirology Laboratory, UNIFESP, and Professor and Researcher at MedPUC Rio de Janeiro.

Prof. Gustavo Robichez
Professor of Department of Informatics and Central Coordinator of Distance Learning (CCEAD) at PUC-Rio. He is an enthusiast on the practice and study of multidisciplinarity, with an emphasis on the guidance and application of technology to positively transform society.

Prof. Marcia Nina Bernardes
Professor at Graduate Law Program at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio) and the academic coordinator of the Human Rights Center. Her academic interests include international human rights, democratic theory, race and gender studies and access to justice. She is a distinguished researcher on these topics, recognized by the Brazilian Scientific Research Agency (Bolsista Pq/CNPq). Ms. Bernardes has published extensively on several languages and has also supervised several doctoral and master dissertations and theses. She holds a JSD degree and an LLM degree from New York University School of Law, where she was a Hauser Global Scholar.

Prof. Monica Herz
Doctor Monica Herz is Associate Professor at the International Relations Institute and Associate Dean for Research of the Social Science Center at PUC-Rio. She has got a PhD. from the London School of Economics and Political Science. She has published three books: Organizações Internacionais: histórias e práticas (co-authors Andréa Ribeiro Hoffman e Jana Tabak)  Rio de Janeiro: Elsevier, 2004;  Ecuador vs. Peru: Peacemaking Amid Rivalry (co-author, João Pontes Nogueira ) Boulder Colorado: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2002 e  Global Governance Away From the Media, Routledge, 2011. She has also published several articles and book chapters about safety in Latin America, regional and international governance, and the international insertion of Brazil.

Prof. Rafael Soares Gonçalves
Lawyer and Historian. PHD in History from the University of Paris VII with a post-doctorate in Anthropology from EHESS. Associate Professor in the Social Work Department of PUC-Rio and coordinator of the Laboratory for Urban and Socio-Environmental Studies (LEUS).  Author of the book Favelas do Rio de Janeiro. História e Direito (PUC-Rio and Pallas Publishers, 2013) as well as numerous urban history articles focused on urban informality and Rio's favelas.

Prof. Ricardo Esteves
Architect and Urban Designer (FAU/UFRJ, 1980), post-graduated in Urban and Regional Planning (UERJ, 1982), M.Sc. in Transport Engineer (COPPE/UFRJ, 1985) and D.Sc. in Production Engineer (COPPE/UFRJ, 2003). Consultant in Urban Mobility and Lecturer at the Department of Architecture and Urban Design at PUC/Rio.

Prof. Rodrigo Penna
Biologist, with a M.S in Environmental Sciences and a PhD in Anthropology. He teaches both ecosystem ecology and political ecology for undergrads and graduate students. His research deals with a broad spectrum of people and nature relations in Brazil, combining the tools of science and humanities.

Prof. Sergio Fontoura
Professor at the Civil Engineering Department where he teaches disciplines related to geomechanics at PUC-Rio.
He also serves as Coordinator of the Petroleum Engineering Undergraduate Course and is the Director of the Group of Petroleum Engineering and Technology that focus on research in drilling of oil wells and reservoir development.

Prof. Zena Eisenberg
Professor of Developmental and Educational Psychology in the Graduate Program in Education and Coordinator of the psychopedagogical guidance and assistance center (NOAP) at PUC-Rio. Her main research interests include language and cognitive development and learning. Her more recent research projects are on the revolution of touchscreen technology in infancy and childhood and the impact of psychopedagogical guidance in university students’ well-being and academic success.

This event is an initiative of the Central Coordination for International Cooperation, PUC-Rio. We hope that the Brazilian Debates can promote a fruitful exchange of ideas, and that the events can help us all to think about Brazilian issues in a global context.

If you have any queries please email: curtaccci@puc-rio.br

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