The focus area of the Graduate Program in Law is the “Development of the Democratic State of Law”. This includes two research fronts: “Development, Democracy and Institutions” and “Legal Rationality and Fundamental Rights in the formation of the Democratic State of Law”.




This area gathers research on social, economic and cultural development in the context of the Democratic State of Law as a permanent challenge and task, striving for a notion of development compatible with the ethical, political and legal demands of the Democratic State of Law in its commitment to individual empowerment, diversity in identity and autonomy, democratic participation and the possibilities for fundamental rights implementation.


We aim for an innovative perspective that is sensitive to Brazil’s unique features as well as global processes that may present challenges to these features, while also being suitable for the constitutional paradigm that has been established in the country since 1988. This notion of development must refuse theoretical models that do not take into account the guarantee of social rights or the imperatives for social justice and redistribution that were established in the 20th century, while also searching for a notion of development that is economically, socially and culturally inclusive and respects individual rights. Simultaneously, we must refuse authoritarian tendencies, often present in the Social State, acknowledging the importance of pluralist participation through everyday democratic procedures that are permanently exposed to dialogic revaluation in transparent and democratic institutions. This notion of development must conceive, enable, require and reassure people and social movements of their autonomy, valuing opinion, creativity and criticism, while also welcoming sustainability criteria created by Environmental Law, which today have spread to other Law fields, including public policies and, consequently, public finance. The processes of affirmation and consolidation of fundamental rights are considered requirements for the possibility of development happening, as well as being the purpose for development, which is a fundamental right in itself and needs to be legitimized and consolidated through legal procedure and participation.


Research Fronts:


Development, Democracy and Institutions


“Development, Democracy and Institutions” focuses on development within an institutional context (social, political and economic practices, regulatory and organizational frameworks, decisive legal models) and how this context can influence development, which proves the importance of rethinking it in relation to the Democratic State of Law.

This research front includes projects that aim to comprehend development as a right, a principle and a purpose, and its institutional framework in the Democratic State of Law.

In dialog with the following research front’s problematic, this type of investigation focuses on answering questions such as: What is development? What’s the relationship between legal institutions, public policies and development? What are the development models and what is the criticism towards them, taking the premises of the Democratic State of Law into account? What are the links between democracy, development and fundamental rights (such as social engagement, a balanced environment, information, equality, access to Justice…)? What do development challenges demand of the Judiciary Power, as an organization and a public institution, in the Democratic State of Law, and are these demands legitimate? How can we think about Brazil’s international integration, considering challenges to development?

We are searching for a non-reductive concept of development, that is not defined only by economic growth, and considers the environment, human beings and citizens. This conceptualization is based upon the effectiveness of fundamental rights that structure the Democratic State of Law; at the same time, it also enables this effectiveness.


Legal Rationality and Fundamental Rights in the formation of the Democratic State of Law


This research front is aimed at comprehending the Democratic State of Law as a guiding light for development efforts.

Research on this front links the notion of development to questions such as: what is the Democratic State of Law? How does it relate to fundamental rights and its many calls for citizenship, inclusion and justice? How can we understand the connection between the state, market, environment and society, in the light of the Democratic State of Law? How does the development of the Democratic State of Law, as a task and a process, find its main potential within decisive processes, in the legal, administrative, political, legislative, business and social spheres, and under what conditions and suppositions?

This line of research raises questions about the connections between law, development and contemporary demands for justice and citizenship, in a convoluted context when it comes to theory and methodology. Therefore, considerations contributing to the establishment of a new development concept that is constitutionally adequate and compatible with the principles and goals of the Democratic State of Law are brought forth, taking its contradictions into account.


Vania Prudencio
Phone: +55 16 3315-0145