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The Case of the Popular University of Social Movements: Lessons on Dialogue From and For Humanisation and the Transformation of Institutions

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Da Trindade E Oliveira, Alexandre  ORCID logo
Merladet, Fábio 


This paper engages with Paulo Freire’s dialogical proposal for promoting individual consciousness, collective emancipation, and effective social changes in order to question some of the main contemporary obstacles to meaningful dialogues taking place. Considering Freire’s idea, in which dialogue is both a result of and a fundamental condition for humanisation, the question is where and why there are barriers to, and failures of, dialogical governance processes in the current global context where social fragmentation is more latent and ideological divergences more evident and challenging to address. To discuss this question, the case of the Popular University of Social Movements (UPMS) is analysed. In 2003 at the World Social Forum, the UPMS emerged with a challenging proposal to constitute a space in which activists, academics, artists, entities, governmental and non-governmental organisations, and local, national, and global social movements who oppose all forms of oppression, can freely and democratically exchange their ideas. Although the UPMS is a space of articulation outside traditional institutional processes, its model implies significant changes in how academic and governmental institutions relate to social movements, activists, and other sectors of society. The article concludes that for dialogue to flourish, it is necessary to define the conditions, processes and spaces that take account of the fundamental pillars of humanisation pointed out by Freire: love, humility, and the faith of individuals in their capacity to create and recreate the world together. In this sense, the case of the UPMS teaches us that it is possible to promote internal changes in structures and institutions through the consolidation of successful dialogical experiences outside institutional walls.



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Journal of Dialogue Studies

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