The Lemann Foundation Programme at Oxford

The Lemann Foundation Programme is a comparative research programme with an emphasis on Brazil, which generates and disseminates knowledge to improve the public sector and its associated institutions.

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About the programme

What can Brazil learn from other countries, and what can other countries learn from Brazil?

These are the questions that the Lemann Foundation Programme explores from the point of view of the people and organisations who compose the public sector, as well as those that engage with it.

Because we want our research to have real-world impact, we develop policy briefs, case studies, events and workshops - all taking aim at the challenges and opportunities facing those with professional responsibilities to serve their fellow citizens.


Our research projects are clustered into three themes. These themes are major challenges to good government and policymaking in Brazil, as well as issues of primary importance in many other countries.

Building back from COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented disruption around the globe. It has exposed and widened inequalities in many areas, including health and education. We aim to understand the pandemic’s impacts as precisely as possible so that they may be substantively addressed, especially in the world’s most unequal countries, such as Brazil.

Building integrity alongside an anti-corruption agenda

In Brazil, as in many other countries, corruption is consistently among citizens’ top concerns. Meanwhile trust in institutions and in society at large are low. We seek to generate knowledge about how to reduce levels of corruption and nurture a trustworthy public sector in the long run. Our projects focus on institutional reform; how public organisations relate to one another; digital government; and the pressures facing civil servants, especially when it comes to issues of diversity.

Polarisation and service delivery

Political polarisation is acutely felt by many in the public sector. We investigate roadblocks faced by leaders and civil servants in this climate, and how these can affect public service delivery. Our aim is to identify pathways for overcoming negative impacts.

Engagement and outreach

The Programme is committed to creating and maintaining an agenda of intensive dialogue, building a network of diverse stakeholders who aim to improve the public sector.

Our official launch was held on 16 November. Thank you to everyone who attended! Over three sessions, we heard about opportunities for public sector reform from Timothy Power, Professor of Latin American Politics and Head of Oxford University's Social Sciences Division; we gleaned insights into three of Oxford's cutting edge COVID-19 research projects - OxCGRT, CADDE and the Oxford Vaccine Group; and we discussed some common challenges that civil servants face, along with possible solutions. You can watch all three sessions on the Blavatnik School's Youtube channel.

In Michaelmas 2021, the Programme welcomes Gabriela Lotta, professor in the Public Management and Government School of the Getúlio Vargas Foundation, São Paulo. Professor Lotta is the Lemann Foundation Visiting Fellow of Practice 2021, and will visit the Blavatnik School in November and December 2021 to engage with faculty and students on topics such as bureaucrats’ experiences during the pandemic and their strategies to avoid political interference. Read Gabriela's interview with Lemann Foundation Programme research assistant, João Pedro Caleiro about her research.

We also welcome Guillermo Toral, assistant professor at Vanderbilt University, United States, as the Visiting Astor Lecturer. Dr. Toral will visit Oxford to present his work on the political logics of patronage.

Download the Michaelmas term card to see our upcoming event schedule.

Get in touch with us by emailing or sign up to our mailing list.


The team supports a diverse community made of those who come to the Blavatnik School sharing our goals and ambitions. We also aim to encourage MPP and DPhil applicants from under-represented parts of Brazil and the Global South more broadly.

In the video below, Beatriz Azevedo De Araujo, from Fortaleza in Brazil’s northeast, discusses the process of applying to the Blavatnik School and reflects on her year in Oxford.