Brazil will be one of the main partners of the new Université de Paris
Presidents of FAPESP and of the Université de Paris highlight the importance of academic and scientific collaborations between Brazilians and the French. Collaboration agreement to reinforce the partnership will soon be signed.
By Heitor Shimizu, from Paris | Agência FAPESP – Brazil and France have a longstanding relationship in the academic and scientific fields, which dates back to the very origins of institutions – such as the University of São Paulo in the 1930s – and which should be strengthened even more in the future.
The point was made by leaders of FAPESP and the Université de Paris at the opening of FAPESP Week France this Monday (11/25), in Paris. The event, which followed after two days of presentations and debates in Lyon, is taking place until November 27th in the French capital.
“Brazil is a key partner for French institutions. The scientific and academic collaboration between higher education and research institutions in France and Brazil is characterized by a robust and longstanding history that will certainly serve as a basis for a long-lasting and strong partnership in the future,” said Christine Clerici, president of the Université de Paris.
One example of this strengthening will occur in the next few weeks, with the signing of a cooperation agreement between the Université de Paris and FAPESP.
“We have decided, here at FAPESP Week France, to sign a cooperation agreement with the Université de Paris that will enable researchers from the State of São Paulo from any university, public or private, the conditions to carry out joint studies in collaboration with scientists from the Université de Paris,” said Marco Antonio Zago, president of FAPESP.
Clerici highlighted that, in terms of scientific article production, France is Brazil’s main partner after the United States. “Our recent history of cooperation dates back to 1971, shortly after the creation of the Paris Diderot and Descartes universities,” she said.
“It was because of this longstanding and fruitful relationship with Brazil that we decided to organize this event with FAPESP and we are very happy to be able to receive colleagues from the State of São Paulo in order to reinforce and encourage partnerships with our researchers,” said Clerici.
Present at the opening of the event, Pedro Saldanha, advisory minister of the Brazilian Embassy in France, mentioned some examples of the cooperation between the countries, such as the Santos Dumont supercomputer program – produced by the French company Atos/Bull and installed at the National Scientific Computing Laboratory – and the Submarine Development Program (Prosub), which includes the transfer of technology for manufacturing military vessels.
“We collaborate in many areas and France is one of the main destinations for Brazilian higher education students, with more than 5,000 in French institutions. This illustrates the enormous potential for collaboration,” said Saldanha.
Université de Paris
With the aim of “transforming the higher education backdrop” in the French capital, the Université de Paris was created by official decree in March of 2019, based on the merger of the Paris Descartes and Paris Diderot universities and the incorporation of the Institut Physique du Globe de Paris. The universities will keep their names until December, when the transition period ends, and will cease to exist in January, when they will be substituted by the new Université de Paris.
Christine Clerici, president of the Université Paris Diderot (Paris 7) since 2014, has been chosen to be the first president of the new Université de Paris.
“The new Université de Paris is a public university with three main faculties – Health, Sciences, and the Faculty of Human and Social Sciences – plus the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris,” said Gilles Guiheux, vice-president of Research at the Université Paris Diderot, at FAPESP Week France.
Guiheux explained that the merger will result in an institution with 61,000 students, 4,500 professors and researchers, another 3,000 employees, 22 post-graduate schools, 142 laboratories, and 52 associated international laboratories. Right from the start, the Université de Paris will be responsible for 10% of the scientific articles published in France and 8% of the country’s doctoral degrees.
“The new Université de Paris will be strongly connected with the city of Paris and one of the motives behind the creation of the new university is to reduce the high fragmentation of the University of Paris,” said Guiheux.
One of the oldest higher education institutions in the world, the University of Paris, known as the Sorbonne – originally the name of a building in the Latin Quarter – started its activities in the second half of the 12th century. Names such as Calvin, Thomas Aquinas, Diderot, Voltaire, and Balzac have all passed through its installations, as well as 50 Nobel prizes.
In 1970, after the protests of May 1968 that resulted in the closure of the Sorbonne, the institution was reorganized into 13 autonomous universities, ranging from the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne to the Université Paris 13 Nord.
“Interestingly, the name Université de Paris was not being used and, as of January, it will define our university,” said Guiheux.
International research hub
“The mission of FAPESP’s international collaboration strategy is to make the State of São Paulo an international research hub,” said Carlos Américo Pacheco, Director-President of FAPESP, in a presentation at FAPESP Week France shortly after the opening of the event in Paris.
“The support provided by FAPESP to this cooperation has two channels: it enables scientists to be sent abroad from the State of São Paulo and also makes it possible for researchers from other countries to come to universities and science and technology institutes in São Paulo,” said Pacheco.
The director-president highlighted that the strategy goes beyond the simple exchange of scientists. “Our idea is to support entire research projects, lasting various years, based on complex and internationally competitive proposals and that are conducted with equal participations on each side,” he said.
Pacheco highlighted that international collaborations are very important for the development of research in the State of São Paulo and that, because of this, FAPESP has cooperation agreements with around 180 organizations in dozens of countries.
In 2018, as part of these agreements, 37 calls for proposals were issued by FAPESP in partnership with 27 institutions abroad. In the same year, FAPESP signed 28 new agreements with institutions in other countries.
More information about FAPESP Week France: www.fapesp.br/week2019/france.
Photo caption: Marco Antonio Zago and Christine Clerici / Heitor Shimizu, Agência FAPESP