Anthropology teaching at Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) dates back to 1942, to a chair in Anthropology and Ethnology of History and Geography, as the School of Philosophy, Sciences and Letters was created. At the time of the 1970 University Reform, it became the Instituto de Filosofia e Ciências Humanas (Philosophy and Humanities Institute), with four departments, namely, Philosophy, Psychology, History and Social Sciences. In 1993, the Anthropology Department gained autonomy from the Social Sciences Department.
Graduate Anthropology Studies started in 1974, when the Specialization Course in Anthropology was created. The Master’s Program was created in 1979 and the Ph.D. Program in 1991. The Program has ever since attracted students from all Brazilian regions, from Latin American countries and elsewhere.
PPGAS / UFRGS's overriding goal is to train qualified anthropologists enabled to work as academic professors and researchers as well as professionals in society at large. Its alumni are found in major teaching & research institutions as well as in government and non-government agencies, both in Brazil and abroad. Its academic excellence has been consistently recognized by the Agency entrusted with evaluating college and university education in Brazil (CAPES – Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Ensino Superior). Since 2003, this department has successively earned a 6-point grade, exclusive of world-class programs. A diversity of research lines articulated around a collective project ensures both identity and projection.
The PPGAS / UFRGS stands out, firstly, for its social insertion and cooperation with other academic institutions, in order to advance anthropology in those regions, countries and continents wherein this field of knowledge is under consolidation. Secondly, it engages in exchanges with other graduate institutions in hegemonic contexts of knowledge production. Its international character is made manifest in the scientific output of its professors and researchers, its appeal to foreign students, and the wide empirical scope of its research efforts, now covering the world’s five continents. It is likewise reflected on the continuous participation of visiting professors and post-doctoral scholars from several countries as temporary faculty.
The Program also includes the Social Anthropology Laboratory and several research nuclei carrying out research projects, academic extension, and consultancies, both in classic and in innovative anthropological fields. These include culture, health, human rights, citizenship, religion, ethnology, economics, food, tourism, the environment and science. Since 1995, it has published the journal Horizontes Antropológicos, ranked at the top (A1) scale of CAPES' Qualis classification system. It also publishes journals from its research nuclei: Debates do NER, Espaço Ameríndio and Iluminuras. Its researchers and students count on a top-of-line research infrastructure, which includes one of the largest social sciences library collections in Brazil, MA, Ph.D. and post-doctoral scholarships, as well as support to fieldwork and to participation in scientific conferences.