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Brazil's Bolsonaro Takes on Philosophy, Sociology

April 29, 2019
 
 

Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, on Friday said that the Minister of Education is considering withdrawing funds from philosophy and sociology programs.

Bolsonaro, who previously has stated his opposition to the teaching of gender studies, said that students already enrolled in programs would not be affected. “The goal is to focus on areas that will have immediate return to taxpayers, such as veterinary medicine, engineering and medicine,” Bolsonaro said on Twitter (in translation).

“The role of the government is to respect the taxpayer's money, teaching the young to read, write, do math and to provide a craft that generates income to the person and welfare to the family, which improves society around them.”

The move will undoubtedly attract widespread concern and condemnation across many corners of academe. Jason Stanley, the Jacob Urowsky Prof of Philosophy at Yale University and author of the book How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them (Penguin Random House, 2018), wrote on Twitter that it represents "the culmination of a campaign that has focused on a supposed leftist takeover of the education system." Sean Carroll, a physicist at California Institute of Technology, tweeted, "Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, has many deplorable policies, but targeting philosophy and sociology in universities kind of sums them up. An antipathy towards deep knowledge is characteristic of a certain kind of right-wing populism."

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