If you could start a new university from scratch, how would you do it? You have been tasked with deciding every detail of the academic program — the major requirements, the design of the courses, the class sizes, the weekly schedules. Imagine being unconstrained by tradition, administration, or money. What would you change, if you could?
That was the amazing opportunity offered to four psychologists — Rodolpho Azzi, Carolina Martuscelli Bori, Fred S. Keller, and John Gilmour Sherman — in the early 1960s. The government of Brazil was creating a new university in the country’s capital, Brasilia, and the founders had asked Azzi and Bori — then faculty members at the University of Sao Paulo, along with their American colleagues Keller and Sherman — to create a department of psychology. They were given almost total freedom to design the department from the ground up, beginning with an introductory course for 60 students, most of whom were interested in continuing on as psychology majors.