Brazil: Social Justice and Sustainable Development

Educational Excursions

Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.


Through educational excursions within the state of Ceará students learn about northeast Brazil's diverse urban and rural communities and compare regional responses to social injustice. Students visit a rural MST agricultural settlement to learn about agrarian reform laws and the group's struggle for more democratic structures of land tenure in Brazil. They also spend time in community-based projects with NGOs where they study the benefits and challenges of popular democracy. They talk to residents about local projects related to community organization, democratic culture building, social issues with respect to violence against women and children, international trafficking of humans, sex tourism, child prostitution, economic development and native culture modification, and economic and environmental reform. 

Educational excursions illuminate thematic coursework by further immersing students directly into diverse Brazilian communities.  Through firsthand engagement with multiple sources of knowledge, students observe and experience the social, political, and economic dynamics affecting northeast Brazil. The majority of educational excursions take place during the two-week period following the homestay in Fortaleza.

Meeting with landless rural workers in Ceara

Movement of Landless Rural Workers (MST) Settlement
Students stay with rural workers in an MST agricultural settlement and examine the history, structure, and objectives of the MST. MST leaders share with students their philosophy of agrarian reform and the process and challenges associated with organizing rural workers to bring about change. In the past, students have participated in a variety of activities, including constructing cisterns, painting community meeting centers, constructing and planting community gardens, and meeting with youth or women’s groups.

Students will go on one of the following excursions:

The excursion to Recife gives students exceptional insight into the Brazilian women's movement by meeting with members of Casa da Mulher, a dynamic NGO working in urban and rural areas to address social issues including domestic violence, the labor market, and family and child care. Casa da Mulher also focuses on women in indigenous communities and promotes alternative practices and philosophies to empower indigenous women within their communities. Recife may be substituted for another location in the region depending on the semester.

Meeting with the Quilombo Communitiy in Bahia

Salvador, Bahia
In Bahia's capital city, Salvador, students engage with Afro Brazilian communities while examining the historical context of slavery and the social marginalization of African Diaspora populations in the post-emancipation era. Discussions focus on the continued presence of slavery, poverty, and racism as well as the influence of Afro Brazilian religious communities in the area. Students meet with social activists from the black movement to learn about the challenges of fully integrating the African community into Brazilian society.

After spending a few days in the city of Salvador, the group continues on to the Chapada Diamantina in the interior of the state of Bahia. At the Vale do Capão, students will consider ecological and environmental sustainability issues. This is the most densely populated agricultural region within the Parque Nacional Chapada Diamantina. The mountain range is a spectacular landscape characterized by sharp topography, clean water for bathing and drinking, and countless waterfalls and hiking trails. Students participate in classes related to environmental education for children and the community, herbal medicine, healthcare, and nature walks.

Please note that students either visit Recife or Salvador, but not both.

Costs Dates

Credits: 16

Duration: 15 weeks

Program Base: Fortaleza

Language Study: Portuguese

Prerequisites: 1 semester Portuguese or 2 semesters of another Romance language Read more...


View Student Evaluations for this program:

About the Evaluations (PDF)

Fall 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Spring 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Fall 2012 Evaluations (PDF)

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