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UNESCO approves the creation of the Oswaldo Cruz Chair


Jacqueline Boechat (COC/Fiocruz)


United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has approved the creation of the Oswaldo Cruz Chair of Science, Health and Culture. The welcoming of the proposal presented by Casa de Oswaldo Cruz (COC/Fiocruz) in April 2019 and now approved by the agency is proof of the acknowledgement, by the United Nations agency, of the importance of the area of biomedical and health sciences, and brings with it opportunities for the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), for COC, and for their post-graduation programs, in particular the History of Science and Health course, on which the chair is founded. The project, with an initial duration of four years, also opens path for the consolidation of a new research agenda in Humanities and related areas.

With 20 years of history, the Post-Graduation Program in History of Science and Health is characterized by interdisciplinarity and articulation of national and international networks. The creation of the chair will allow for the expansion of these networks and the increase of national, regional and international production, through events, launches of publications, and co-authored articles: “This gives us the chance to bring researchers over to spend time here, participate in courses and seminars and make knowledge circulate. It will be a space for reflection, open to different points of view on science and its challenges in a global world”, explains  the directo of COC, Paulo Elian.

According to Gisele Sanglard, coordinator of the Post-Graduation Program in History of Science and Health, the official installation of the chair should take place in a few months: “We are just waiting for UNESCO’s guidelines”, she says. The researcher also presents the main work goals for the next four years: “The goal is to strengthen North-South collaboration, contributing to bring together teaching and reasearch institutions in the Americas and in Europe, and therefore expand the exchange of knowledge around the history of science and health and its heritage”, Sanglard states. She will be coordinating the chair.

UNESCO’s representation in Brazil is also celebrating the news, and reveals its expectations with the initiative: “We believe this chair will be an important ally in the current reflections on themes related to the history of science, biomedical sciences, culture, and the humanities. This striking feature - its clear interdisciplinary nature - will be very useful in increasingly transversal actions led by UNESCO in these fields. In addition, counting on the support of an institution as prestigious as Fiocruz is a reason for much joy. We are convinced that important results and works will originate from this budding partnership”, comments the coordinator of UNESCO’s Programs of Human and Social Sciences and Natural Sciences in Brazil, Fabio Eon.

For Fiocruz president, Nísia Trindade Lima, the chair represents the excellence of the work carried out by the institution in terms of building bridges between science and culture by means of studies of history of science, history of health, and social studies of science: “Promoting these bridges is part of the core of our institution, very well represented by Casa de Oswaldo Cruz. My satisfaction is double: not only as Fiocruz president, but also as a member of the Post-Graduation program in History of Science and Health:”. The president states that this success potencializes the work carried out by COC: “The chair will allow us to expand international partnerships and strengthen this important perspective of associating science and culture to promote actions with the society”, she concluded.

UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Programme

Launched in 1992, the University Twinning and Networking (UNITWIN/UNESCO) Chairs Programme promotes international inter-university cooperation and sharing, to strengthen institutional capacities by sharing knowledge and collaborative work. The program supports the creation of UNESCO chairs and UNITWIN Networks in key priority areas established in the context of the agency’s fields of competences, that is, education, natural and social sciences, culture and communication.

By means of these networks, universities and research institutions throughout the world can channel their resources, human as well as material, to fight pressing challenges and contribute to the development of their societies. The networks and chairs also work as reflection groups and as builders of bridges between the academy, civil society, local communities, research and policy makers.

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