In 1933, a group of physicians in São Paulo created a medical school. The school became the Universidade Federal de São Paulo in 1994. It focused exclusively on medical fields until 2005, but has recently expanded in other fields, and today it has five campuses. UNIFESP remains primarily focused on health sciences and it is Brazil’s largest university with this focus. UNIFESP’s website>>
UNIFESP takes seriously its responsibility to the community. The University supports 70 established social projects, such as extension programs, scholarships, an open university for elders, and partnerships with private companies and the government. The University’s mission specifically cites extension activities with the following goal: “To provide, in a permanent and systematic basis, high technical and professional assistance to society — the end-target of teaching and research —, resulting in the simultaneous and continuous transformation of the University itself.” Learn more>>
The Pro-Rectorate for Extension is responsible for coordinating UNIFESP’s social projects. Given its specialization in health sciences, much of UNIFESP’s community engagement work consists of community health projects. For example, a program called “Partners of the Ball” works to promote the health of children enrolled in school football programs through workshops on nutrition, physical activity, and health. UNIFESP is also responsible for the management of the Family Health Program in 11 of the 41 health districts of the city, providing care for communities of little economic means. Faculty and students from the university provide medical care to indigenous Xingu people on several Indian reservations.
Other projects relate to health but also go beyond. For example, The Santos Campus has launched a Community Bakery Project in order to both provide access to healthy food for poor communities, and to provide economic opportunities for these communities. Other projects focus on providing enrichment opportunities for vulnerable youth populations. UNIFESP also provides educational and enrichment opportunities for the elderly. Learn more about UNIFESP’s extension projects>>
Expanding higher education access
One project UNIFESP has undertaken to expand tertiary opportunities for students from disadvantaged backgrounds provides short pre-university courses in business for secondary school students who couldn’t afford such an opportunity. This improves their chances on university entrance exams. The program serves about 170 students and is run by UNIFESP faculty and students, providing UNIFESP students with administrative and teaching experience. Learn more>>