Cover of the School
of Economics' review
on Economics & International Relations.

opposite page:
Gilles Lipovetsky, French sociologist
and theorist of the new individualism,
during lecture at FAAP.
 


SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS:
TRAINING STUDENTS FOR ACONSTANTLY CHANGING WORLD

Creativity in the quest for innovative solutions. Balance to maintain focus and perseverance. Leadership in management of people and projects. These are some of the many skills FAAP's School of Economics seek to develop, as key attributes for graduates seeking an edge when competing for the best positions in the employment market.

Both courses (Economic Sciences and International Relations) pose the same aim: producing professionals capable of meeting the requirements of Brazilian and multinational companies.

Speedy change in the international context and increased complexity of economic relations with more competitiveness on global markets mean that professionals in these fields must have a solid and appropriate academic background to cope with new paradigms in the contemporary world.

In light of the nonstop (and accelerating) transformation of the business environment, the course helps students develop the skills required to exercise the profession in a world undergoing constant structural change in organizations.

In this scenario a crucial issue for higher education institutions is investing in methodologies and techniques that prioritize creative learning, thus qualifying future professionals to think for themselves on the basis of ethical values and encouraging them to update their knowledge at all times. These are foundation skills compatible with the needs of organizations and institutions in today's society.

The Economics course was authorized by the Ministry of Education in 1973; full recognition came four years later, in 1977. Since then, the mission of the School has been to prepare professionals by providing education attuned to the needs of the Brazilian business world and the advances made therein. An amended syllabus implemented in late 1997 underlined the nature of the course as one oriented to the requirements of the market. On the basis of this perspective, disciplines taught include Economic Law, Agribusiness, and Economics of the Firm as differentiating elements in graduates' professional backgrounds.

Another innovation was the emphasis on fostering development of creativity, including in the programmatic content. That this was the right decision may be seen in the large numbers of articles in learned journals in the field of business studies pointing to creativity as a key instrument in building competitiveness.

One of the aims of the course is to provide professionals with a solid theoretical, historical, and quantitative basis, as competences required for a creative and differentiated intervention in the working environment, as well as sensitivity to the need for continuous improvement. Many graduates work in private-sector companies, more specifically in the financial market.

The School encourages students on both courses to take part in FAAP's extension programs and particularly the entrepreneur development program. This amounts investment in potential for change and transformation of the situation in Brazil, especially in relation to creating more business, employment, and income.

HIGHLIGHTS

In mid-2002, the School of Economics held a meeting to bring together different generations of students and open a new channel of communication (hopefully permanent) with the intention of assisting the different groups in relation to their educational and professional needs. One of the aims was to tap the school's alumni and graduates for ideas on enhancing and updating the syllabus. Alumni were also introduced to FAAP's wide range of courses in the continuing education segment.

Economics Week 2002 ended with a talk from Pedro Malan (then Minister of Finance) and the official publication of the School's review of Economics & International Relations as yet another initiative in the continuous quest for academic excellence. The review enables the school to publish and disseminate new knowledge by discussing issues relating to Mercosur, working issues, world markets, globalization, employment, etc. Contributions to the review come from Brazilian and international specialists.

By regularly holding the Economics Week and International Relations Week, the school has provided an opportunity for leading figures in the field to outline their ideas and views on the profession to an audience of students and professors. There has been a high level of audience involvement showing the success of this initiative, which has had great repercussion in FAAP and elsewhere.

From October 2003 onwards, in order to intensify relations with the external environment, the School of Economics started its Executive Forums. The event provided more opportunities for alumni interaction and learning by current students, as well as suggestions for case studies and publications. As in Economics Week, visiting speakers may include the chairman of the Central Bank or Securities Commission, or a professor from the Institute of International Economics (Washington, d.c.). The Institution also hosts world conferences attended by leading specialists in international economics.

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: TRAINING PEOPLE WHO WILL SELL THE IMAGE OF BRAZIL

This is something more than a course in diplomacy or foreign trade. Brazil is seen as a nation that has been involved in the globalization process and open to the world for the last fifteen years or so. International Relations at FAAP is synonymous with modernizing the country and training future entrepreneurs. The syllabus is put together with the aim of training professionals with strong negotiating skills and extensive knowledge in economics, finance, and technology. The course's major differential lies in its alignment with the growing trend toward internationalization in Brazil and the needs of a contemporary multipolar world. The trend has developed and is becoming a "buzz word," to use a colloquial expression; however, to be more precise we would have to say "becoming an urgent need" for the new Brazil that is now emerging.

It is no longer a question of traditional education to give graduates a political-diplomatic profile directed particularly to missions in the public sector or government agencies. What we have here is an innovation. In some countries, courses of this kind are called business diplomacy. There is growing demand for the course and for specialists companies can send abroad to promote Brazil. Since it was introduced, all classes graduated have found employment in the field of their choice.

The ir course was first introduced in 1998; there was a shortage of professionals in the segment since Brazil was increasingly seeking to boost exports and many companies were becoming more aware of foreign markets. The Education Ministry granted recognition in 2003, and the structure set up was something more than a course in foreign trade since the disciplines taught provide a broad but thorough grasp (with an enormous workload) of international relations and negotiations; business prospecting; negotiating models; international politics and economics; the local and international financial system; and theoretical knowledge of international law. Everything needed for highly skilled process management.

Until a few years ago there was no specialization of this kind in Brazil, since the field is quite specific and recently constituted. Previously, companies asked lawyers, administrators, or economists to fill this role, but there were always gaps, since certain situations called for interconnected knowledge. Demand is booming so the International Relations course is here to stay and will surely develop further. The course is seen as a portal for access to educational and cultural interchange programs worldwide.

The course lasts eight semesters and has seventy places per semester. Classes are daytime schedule, since students have a special profile. The selection process filters the best students from the best schools, and this is what makes the difference. Students have to be fluent in two foreign languages - preferably more. Many spend time abroad to learn a third or fourth language. Students are very active and are constantly involved in national or international conferences in the ir field or are intensively engaged in simulations of assemblies of the uno or other international agencies. They are always eager for extracurricular activities since the field is constantly evolving and professionals have to continuously recycle and update to avoid being left behind.

Internally, in order to interchange ideas and visualize new issues and pathways, FAAP holds half-yearly meetings with former students now in the market. In addition, students have traveled to Mexico, Argentina, the us, and other countries on exchange programs with other International Relations courses to broaden horizons and seek practical knowledge. Essentially, it is not just a question of the number of these special arrangements but also their quality, since FAAP selects only the best institutions in each country. Relations with Brazil's school of diplomacy (Instituto Rio Branco) are ongoing too.

Complementary activities include visiting speakers, lectures, workshops, conferences, and seminars with leading figures in politics, economics, and foreign relations and several former presidents, former ministers, and ambassadors. ir at FAAP is constantly assessing its own performance, studying opportunities for change and new developments. Many schools take the view that the employment market is the students' problem once they have graduated, whereas at FAAP both the professors and Institution see themselves as part of this process. There is also a constant effort to inform companies and business associations of the existence of a course of this nature since many are unaware of this specialization or think that it comprises conventional diplomatic education. The idea is to show what professionals in this field are doing in the market. Although not yet a discipline as such, ir activity is already being approached in this way.

PARTNER SHIP WITH THE FERNAND BRAUDEL INSTITUTE OF WORLD ECONOMICS

Students and professors on the Economic Sciences and International Relations courses have benefited greatly from the partnership between FAAP and the Fernand Braudel Institute of World Economics, which was founded in 1987 by a group of economists, entrepreneurs, journalists, and figures in public life to organize research, seminars, and international conferences on several issues of social interest, such as governability, ethics, and inflation, Brazil in the world economy, the crisis of federalism, fiscal and monetary policy, public health, crime, public safety, education, urbanization, and mortality. It has consistently attracted prominent personalities on the Brazilian and international scenarios.

As well as events of major repercussion, the Institute also promotes a series of research programs and social activities. A highlight among projects of this nature are its "Reading Circles" aimed at fostering intellectual education for young students attending public schools by reading and analyzing classic literature.