The Lemann Dialogues are annual conferences on Brazil collaboratively organized between four universities with endowments made possible through the Lemann Foundation (Columbia University, Harvard University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Stanford University). The founder of the Lemann Foundation is Jorge Paulo Lemann, noted Brazilian business leader and a generous benefactor of Columbia University.
The specific conference themes vary each year, but generally focus on contemporary social, economic, and political challenges in Brazil. Speakers at these conferences include faculty from the four collaborating institutions, as well as scholars, policymakers, and other experts from Brazil. The conference provides an excellent opportunity to showcase innovative research on Brazil, build connections between academic institutions, and connect leading academics and public policy experts.
For the2019 Lemann Dialogue, hosted by Columbia University, the overarching theme is evidence-based policymaking, its importance and its challenges. The conference aims to highlight academic research and its value for addressing public policy needs and social challenges in Brazil.
Bridging academic insights to effectively addressing social challenges has always been an aspirational endeavor, with a fricitive relation to the complexities of addressing social issues, and the complexities of politics, including the negotiation of diverse and conflicting political demands, as well as the disruptions caused by administrative discontinuities; however, the challenges to realizing evidence-based decision making appear to be intensified in the current political moment in Brazil (and globally), considering that it is marked by heightened ideological polarization, along with an intensification of the political weight of some special interests, a climate of anti-intellectualism, and suspicions of scientific truth claims.
Considering this scenario, the 2019 Lemann Dialogue will focus on three main areas of public policy in which evidence-based approaches are both vital yet often undermined, impeding abilities to sensibly and effectively addressing critical social challenges. These priority areas include diversity/inclusion; education; and public safety. Through an exploration of these themes from a diverse group of scholars, decision-makers, and practitioners, participants will substantively engage with the overall conference theme while deepening our understanding of the specific challenges, opportunities, and innovations in vital areas of public policy for Brazil’s sustainable and equitable development.