The SBPC’s history is closely connected to Brazil’s social, political, and economic development process over the last seven decades. Its first landmark dates back to July 8th, 1948, when a group of approximately 60 scientists, invited by José Reis, Maurício Rocha e Silva, and Paulo Sawaya, met at the conference hall of the São Paulo Medical Science Association (Associação Paulista de Medicina) to establish a Society for the Advancement of Science, following in the footsteps of similar societies from other countries. In the post-World War II era, nations around the globe were becoming more aware of how fostering social and economic development was a critical need.
During its first years of operations, the SBPC contributed to the recognition and institutionalization of science in Brazil, by creating, through the federal government, agencies to support science such as the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico – CNPq) and the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior – Capes), in 1951.
The SBPC played a critical role resisting the government during the years of military dictatorship in the Country, especially expressing its pro-democracy views and opposing the government’s persecution of educators, researchers, and students and the interference in Brazil’s educational and scientific systems. During that period, the Society’s Annual Meetings were among the few places where debate was open to the public and where important public manifestos were drafted to advocate for the amnesty, democratic freedom, and reinstatement of educators and scientists who had been disenfranchised.
Once democracy was restored in Brazil by the mid-1980s, the Ministry of Science and Technology (Ministério da Ciência e Tecnologia – MCT, 1985) was established, making it possible to strengthen the Country’s national STI system.
The SBPC was actively engaged in all these events. And we know there is still a long journey ahead to make sure education, science, technology, and innovation have a more significant influence in the quality of life and well-being of the Brazilian society.
The documents recording our history are now kept in the Centro de Memória Amélia Império Hamburger, a documentation center established in March 2017 at the SBPC headquarters in São Paulo. The center is open to students, researchers, and anyone who is interested in learning about the SBPC’s history and work promoting scientific development in Brazil.