My two parents had lifelong careers at the same university in Brazil (that’s actually where they met!). Both of them went above and beyond their role as professors. My mother, a philosophy teacher, was a local and national leader of a movement to include philosophy in the curriculum of elementary and high schools all over the country. She succeeded. I remember when I was in grade 6 and my mom came to our school to introduce the new curriculum. I felt both proud (for my mom doing something so important) and embarrassed (not all of my classmates enjoyed the idea of one more exam). My father designed and created several new departments in his university, including the Department of Computer Science in which I would be one of the undergrads many years later, two years after he had retired.
It wasn’t rare for me and my two brothers to spend the afternoon after school wandering in the hallways of the university or sitting in a corner of my parents’ office or taking a peek in one of their classes. At home, in a library stuffed with heavy (literally and figuratively) books and using cutting-edge computers (which had less processing power than an mp3 player has), I would type up the articles my mom used to write for a local newspaper. A good education was one of the most important values in my household.
In some ways, you could say my family exists because of the university. It’s no surprise that my two brothers have Ph.Ds. I have “only” an M.A. in Urban Management and a nearly finished M.Sc. in Artificial Intelligence (to my dad’s great disappointment). One detail that is important to note, especially for North American readers, is that the five of us never paid one cent for all of our post-secondary education because there are many free public universities in Brazil.
Even though our family feels at home in academic settings, I believe that our motivations to pursue this path are not about the institution itself or the titles. It is about a deep yearning to learn, the feeling of belonging to something bigger than ourselves and the desire to put all that learning into good use, meaning helping other people. Those three things were instilled in me and my brothers since we were very young.
Curiosity, belonging, willingness to help and the belief that education should be free and accessible to all, led me to enrol in a Ph.T. research project. You read it right with a T. And if you want to know more, you can learn what Philosophy in a Team means here.
It’s been at least five years now that I’ve been thinking about how to synthesize the knowledge and experience I have accumulated. For almost 20 years, I’ve been working with urban projects that are trying to create the conditions for a regenerative city. My goal for doing a Ph.T is to package my learning in a way that can be replicated and scaled up.
I’ve had a very positive response since I start sharing about this project with friends, in my lectures and blog posts. So I decided that it is time to launch Urban Literacy – a Ph.T. research project. That means that I will start sharing what I’ve learned in a more systematic way and I will create opportunities for input and participation based on a research design plan. Stay tuned, and let me know if you are interested!