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Tireless engagement

Carolina Bori defended essential banners for psychology along with the democratization of science

sbpcCarolina is honored at an SBPC meeting in Julysbpc

Permanent restlessness and a vitality in the defense of innumerable causes in which she believed, were personality traits of Carolina Bori who has left marks in her profession and in the teaching of psychology and who molded the direction of the Brazilian Society for Progress in Science (SBPC), an entity over which she presided during the 80’s. The professor at the Psychology Institute of the University of São Paulo (USP), who died at eighty years of age on the 5th of October, decisively strove to create eation of the Brazilian Psychology Society, in the Post Graduation Program of the Psychology Institute and at the National Association of Research and Post Graduation in Psychology.

She helped to implant the courses in this discipline at Unesp in Rio Claro, at the University of Brasilia and at the Federal University of Sao Carlos. As well, she led the movement that culminated in regulating psychology as a profession – hers was the 1st registration on the category’s council. A daughter of Italians, born in the city of São Paulo, Carolina Bori graduated in pedagogy from the Philosophy, Sciences and Letters Faculty of the University of Sao Paulo, where she then specialized in psychology. Her masters was obtained at the Graduate Faculty -New School University, in the United States, and her doctorate degree from USP.

A pioneer in experimental psychology research in Brazil, she also brought to the country the ideas of the North American Fred Keller, according to whom the experimental analysis of behavior could be fundamental to a new manner of teaching. Hence came the personalization of teaching, a method based on rigorous planning of the learning steps, with the objective of calibrating the rhythm of working out difficulties and conquests shown by the student.

Scientific methodology
In 1969 her admission as a member of the SBPC was the coronation of a fight to consolidate psychology in the breast of the university, in her own words “a psychology based on scientific methodology and on experimentation, as with the other sciences”. In order to get there she confronted prejudices. “They call us positivists”, she said, in a statement for the book Cientistas do Brasil [Scientists in Brazil], in 1998. “We were rigorous in data collection and even more rigorous in the analysis of it. Nevertheless, the tendency was something else: much more speculative and interpretive. This is the image that is still passed on about psychology: the layman has no contact with scientific knowledge, but is bombarded with vague ideas, which end up forming a mishmash without meaning”, she affirmed.

At the SBPC she widened her specter of concerns, also going on to defend science as a generator of development and as an antidote to social disparities. Between 1986 and 1989 she presided over the entity and remained as honorary president until the end of her life. She encouraged the initiatives for the spreading of science, such as the realization of radio programs and conferences, the establishing of the Brazilian Education, Science and Culture Institute, the Interscience Association and USP’s science station.

“We need to improve the lives of people not only in terms of turning the products generated by science available, but also make them more critical in relation to the world in which they live,” she stated. “The fact that a section of the population lives without information and are distant from scientific knowledge is absurd, as well as the poor training of teachers being absurd as they should be the agents to modify this situation.” The professor gave ballast to the engagement of the scientific community on political questions during the occasion of the military dictatorship. The defense of human rights and the campaign against the nuclear program were just two of these banners.