Epistemological foundations of the institutional matrix for new models of Higher Education in Brazil: a qualitative approach to institutional documents of Universidade Federal do ABC

Manuel Tavares Sandra Gomes About the authors


In the formerly so-called third world countries, now called emerging countries or peripheral and semi-peripheral countries, there are innovative counter-hegemonic experiences in which higher education projects are framed in a perspective of social equity and justice including historically marginalized social groups which also have always been far away from the right to higher education. The present text intends to depict and reflect on the institutional structure that underpins a new model of higher education in Brazil, particularly at Universidade Federal do ABC (UFABC). The processes of democratization of countries, accompanied by policies aimed at investing in new higher education institutions, have allowed a substantial diversity with regard to the audience of new students. Universities, traditionally reserved for elites, have opened up to new students, in terms of gender, ethnicity, social class, and even different generations. This opening created challenges and expectations regarding the democratization of higher education, the inclusion of cultural and epistemological diversity, the promotion of interculturality, and the decolonization of power and knowledge relations. Some institutional experimentation policies are worth being mentioned. In Brazil, the actions of post-neoliberal governments of Lula and Dilma also focused on the creation of popular universities, presenting different profiles and responding to specific political action objectives. The first one was UFABC, whose institutional matrix is the object of our study. We will first focus on qualitative paperwork research using discourse analysis from N. Fairclough’s perspective in order to infer the structuring lines of the new model of higher education with special emphasis to conceptual bases of the pedagogical model and the principles underlying pedagogical practice. As a new model of higher education that promotes interdisciplinarity, social inclusion, cultural and epistemological diversity striving for the promotion of cognitive justice, we intend to learn the epistemological features supporting the institutional matrix of UFABC and regulating all academic activities of the institution and its relations with society. One of the conclusions points to some contradictions between discourse and practice.

Conceptual fundamentals; Pedagogical model; University education; Counter-hegemonic higher education

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