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Extension

The social role of Brazilian public universities is a recent concept, constituting the tripod “teaching, research and extension”. Extension involves the development of educational, cultural and scientific activities with the external community, which promotes a transforming relationship between the university and the society.
UFSCar has been stimulating and supporting the promotion of extension activities, projects and programs in order to intensify the integration with the community and the development of social work. In 1996, the university established six Extension Centers whose main goal is to meet the community’s needs and contribute to problem solution of several social segments. These centers’ simultaneous development made it possible to share experiences and formulate multi and interdisciplinary projects due to the intersection between their respective areas of work. Based on professors’ participation in these extension centers, the idea of developing an extension project to create an incubator center of Popular Cooperatives at UFSCar came up. This resulted in the Extension Program “Regional Incubator of Popular Cooperatives at the Federal University of Sao Carlos – INCOOP/UFSCar”.
INCOOP was created at the end of the 90s at UFSCar and it is an instance of multidisciplinary work, focused on producing knowledge simultaneously to intervention, aiming at developing self-managed economic enterprises as an opportunity of generating work and income for excluded populations and consolidating solidary principles and cooperatives in society.

The role of Technological Incubators of Popular Cooperatives (TIPCs)
In the debate about the role of Public University, it is also discussed the role of University in the consolidation of Solidarity Economy that has been acting through an important actor: the Technological Incubators of Popular Cooperatives (TIPCs, known in Portuguese as ITCPs). These incubators were created in middle of the 90s aiming at advising groups to form cooperatives – preferably composed of people from socially excluded sectors, simultaneously to knowledge production and students and professionals’ education.
According to Dubeux (2007), the extension done by the TIPCs is different under various aspects, as the duration and continuity in groups monitoring and the innovative nature of technology production that is more appropriate for disadvantaged social classes. The TIPCs opened a new period in Brazilian universities as an important extension program intertwined with teaching and research.

 


For about 10 years, the TIPCs improved their so-called incubation methods, contributing to consolidating SEEs, to producing knowledge in this area and to the education of several actors involved. However, the most important fact is that incubators expanded their scope of action, not only working in the field of cooperativism, but also discussing solidarity economy broadly. From that moment on, the TIPCs started to incubate networks, informal groups, associations, etc. They began to adopt a multidimensional perspective and incorporate the perspective of territorial development. The obstacles that may be highlighted in regard to incubators are similar to the ones faced by university extension: the conceptualization of its activities and the institutionalization of these units (DUBEUX, 2007).
NuMI-EcoSol is one of these TIPCs and it has contributed, in this process of reality intervention, with its experience in working with Solidarity Economy as a strategy of Territorial Development, in the perspective of proposing Public Policies and operationalizing the principle of inseparability between Research, Teaching and Extension.

NuMI-EcoSol’s Extension Activities

The action of NuMI in Sao Carlos and in cities of the region, based on incubation demands, was the main strategy until 2007. From this year on, the previous INCOOP UFSCar established as its actions preferable focus two neighborhoods located at the city southern region. These places are named Jardim Gonzaga and Jardim Monte Carlo and are described as areas of high social vulnerability. The focus on this neighborhood was because the place was considered an area of poverty, according to data obtained from a project developed by professors at UFSCar, “The map of social exclusion in Sao Carlos” (MANCUSO et al., 1997). Although INCOOP UFSCar had actions to form SEE in those neighborhoods since 1998, it was in 2007 that the isolated incubation strategy of each group transformed into an attempt of forming productive networks and chains as ways to have territorial development through Solidarity Economy.
Thus, NuMI-EcoSol’s focused population is, in general, composed of people in social vulnerability situation, with limited access to citizenship rights under any conditions, such as financial, ethnical, gender, health and others. Besides low income populations, other examples of people served by NuMI-EcoSol’s actions are: users of mental health services, former prisoners, people with history of family conflicts, young people with law problems, users of psychoactive substances and people who live on the streets. Although these populations commonly denominated as excluded have priority in NuMI’s actions, others may also be benefited, such as solidarity economy initiatives and enterprises, as well as other actors who may, somehow, collaborate with the expansion and consolidation of Solidarity Economy. They may benefit from the establishment of cooperation network and commerce.

References
DUBEUX, A. O papel das universidades na construção da Economia Solidária no Brasil. In: Revista Proposta, Rio de Janeiro:Editora FASE, n. 111, 2007. Available at: <http://www.fase.org.br/v2/admin/anexos/acervo/1_anadubeux.pdf>. Accessed in: mar. de 2009.

NÚCLEO MULTIDISCIPLINAR E INTEGRADO DE ESTUDOS, FORMAÇÃO E INTERVENÇÃO EM ECONOMIA SOLIDÁRIA (NUMI). Implementação e sistematização de processos de fomento à Economia Solidária a partir da atuação do NuMI-EcoSol. Projeto para a chamada CTI/SECIS/MTE/SENAES/CNPq No 89/2013. São Carlos: 2013. 91p.