The Graduate Program in Interdisciplinary Studies on University of the Federal University of Bahia (PPGEISU/UFBA) was created in 2011 and is the only one of its kind in the country: it studies, researches, and produces scientific work on the complexity of universities. The intention is to cover an important gap in professional education and the production of high quality knowledge, focusing on the main institution of knowledge of the contemporary era. Through an interdisciplinary-based design, the program emphasizes the decisive role of the university in the development of societies, its impact on economic, social, artistic, technological, and cultural domains, as well as its potential to be a great factor in the progress of education as a whole. It also considers the historical, philosophical, anthropological, political, economic, sociological, micro-environmental, architectural, communicational, technological, educational, administrative, and institutional aspects of its object of study – the University.
The proposal for the creation of PPGEISU arose when UFBA adhered to the Program for the Support of Restructuring and Expansion Plans of Federal Universities (REUNI), which allowed a significant growth of openings in evening programs and curricular changes in our institution; among them, the introduction of a three-year, cyclical, and compatible course with the Bologna Process programs called Interdisciplinary Studies (BI). The political and pedagogical proposal of this program resumes and updates previous projects conceived by educators such as Anísio Teixeira and Darcy Ribeiro, as well as brings to life a transforming sketch for Brazilian higher education between undergraduate and graduate studies as one of its pillars. Professor Milton Santos materialized this pedagogical project by creating the Institute of Humanities, Arts, and Sciences specially to house the BI and enabling the development of PPGEISU.
The PPGEISU started its classes in the second semester of 2011 with a master’s program, and since then it has been contributing in a decisive way to the interdisciplinary qualification of professors, researchers, and professionals capable of thinking about actions, strategies, programs, and policies for universities and Brazilian higher education in general.
The PPGEISU faculty has diversified educational backgrounds and welcomes — whenever necessary — other external researchers who act as co-advisors for final master’s theses or in examination boards. The courses are also an opportunity for the exchange between fields of knowledge and are mostly shared by groups of professors. This situation contributes to a more panoramic view of the topics covered throughout the students’ education. Besides, the PPGEISU faculty has been making important contributions to the consolidation of the interdisciplinary studies area on higher education in Brazil, not only from a theoretical and conceptual point of view, but also due to the outstanding performance of its professors in the management and leadership of federal educational institutions as directors or members of boards of directors, committees, and working groups.
As for the topics chosen for the research development, they address important issues regarding self-knowledge and improvement of intellectual, pedagogical, and management procedures, mostly from the original institutions of the enrolled students. They also accompany the changes and innovations underway or completed in Brazilian universities such as: expansion and de-centralization of higher education; internationalization; evening courses and their clientele; evasion and dropping out of non-degree programs; academic performance of students admitted through reserved openings; accessibility policies; database usage among undergraduate students; patents and technology transfer; new technologies in higher education; university and sustainability; student profiles from institutes of technology; faculty relations and practices in higher education; and science communication. The completion of these tasks and their dissemination — besides representing an achievement for the institutions involved — will contribute to the sustainability of the processes of change and innovation in higher education in Brazil.