Paulo Freire Initiative at Columbia University

Leticia Katz
September 21, 2021

Sept 19 2021 marks the centenary of Paulo Freire, and his centennial is a unique opportunity to pay homage to his impressive legacy. Freire is one of the most influential educators of all time, and one of the most cited scholars across all fields, with close to 500,000 citations. One study places Freire’s foundational book, the Pedagogy of the Oppressed, as the third most cited work in the social sciences of all time, with more citations than Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams and Foucault’s Discipline and Punish. Freire has been translated into more than 40 languages and was awarded 35 honorary doctorates from universities around the world.

The ideas put forth by Paulo Freire were foundational to work on critical pedagogy and culturally relevant education, and have influenced thousands of educators and millions of students. They are closely aligned to the mission of Columbia University and Teachers College: promoting equity and social justice in education. This homage to Freire reinforces our commitments to community, diversity, equity, anti-discrimination, and democracy.

To pay homage to Paulo Freire’s legacy and contribute to expanding it, Teachers College and the Lemann Center for Brazilian Studies at Columbia University's Institute of Latin American Studies (ILAS) are launching the Paulo Freire Initiative at Columbia University on September 19th, 2021, the day of Freire’s Centennial.

The inaugural event of the Paulo Freire Initiative will take place on November 3, 2021, with a Centennial Event including scholars from all over the world. The initiative will also include:

  • Freire Annual Lecture: Every year, on Sept 19 (Freire’s birthday), Columbia will hold a special event on Paulo Freire, free and open to the public.
  • The Freire Scholars program, which will provide funding for current Columbia students and Brazilian scholars to conduct research on the work of Paulo Freire and related topics.
  • The Paulo Freire Seminar at Columbia, a year-long series of online lectures, presentations, and debates dedicated to education in Latin America and in the Global South.
  • Public advocacy work and partnership with other universities and institutions around the world to keep Freire’s legacy alive.

In years to come, we hope that Columbia’s PFI will continue to expand its activities, with academic publications, fellowships, events, and the strengthening of the community of Freirean scholars on campus and beyond.

The PFI was created by Prof. Paulo Blikstein and Mariana Souto-Manning from Teachers College, Columbia University, and will be directed by Prof. Blikstein. A number of Brazilian students at Columbia University were part of the imagining of this project and will continue to actively participate in years to come: Izabela Aparecida de Souza, Walter Akio Goya, Renata Penalva Vieira da Silva, Danilo Fernandes Lima da Silva, Fernanda Vasconcelos Dias, Mariana Casellato, Marcella Winter, Ana Helena de Mello Santos, Ângelo Luiz Viana dos Santos.

For more information about the Freire Initiative, please contact [email protected].