text: Master's Degree Program: Learn about the Elliott School's Latin American & Hemispheric Studies program


The Brazil Initiative offers a growing body of Brazil-related courses and coordinates with departments outside of the Elliott School to cultivate a vibrant mutlidisciplinary selection of courses.


IAFF 6358 Special Topics in Latin American and Hemispheric Studies

Brazil Development in the 21st Century (Fall)

This graduate level seminar course provides students the opportunity to examine Brazil’s recent economic development and evaluate the government’s economic and trade policies and programs. This course considers Brazilian development and its role in the global political economy to ask the question; can the country’s development and trade policies successfully increase economic growth, lessen inequality and achieve environmental sustainability? To explore this multifaceted question, the course focuses on Brazil’s most pressing developmental challenges, including: international trade, capital market formation and liberalization, inflation and exchange rate volatility, the persistent legacies of income inequality and inadequate public education, agriculture, industrial competitiveness, energy production and low carbon development, environmental sustainability, and bilateral economic relations with China and the United States.

Brazil in the Global Arena (Spring)

This course examines the implications of Brazil's recent rise in the world stage by exploring the various facets of the country's interactions after the consolidation of democracy and economic stability, under the governments of presidents Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. The course reviews Brazil's history and the premises of the country's strategies to gain international recognition, its relations with its immediate neighbors and various parts of the world, and the domestic and international issues at the heart the country's international engagement: social inequality, climate change, environmental preservation, and renewable energy; food security, land use and agriculture; innovation, trade and competition policies.

Offered in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences

HIST 6312 - The Law of Race and Slavery (every third year)


IAFF 3187 Special Topics in Latin American and Hemispheric Studies

Anthropology of Latin America- Brazil (Fall)

This course will analyze the history and cultures of Brazil from an anthropological perspective.  Within this diverse country, we will place local case-studies into a global context, focusing on contemporary issues.  Topics will include history, politics, religion, identity, and popular culture.  Throughout, we will attend to concerns that have preoccupied anthropologists, among them, ritual, social organization, gender, performance, and language.  The course is organized in such a way that we begin with broad historical issues to lay the groundwork for some of the specifics to come.  After this historical section (Weeks 2 and 3), we will consider a few important theoretical issues that will guide us. From this point on, we will progress topically -- rather than chronologically or by region.  The following case-studies will prove significant: 1) the indigenous activism of the Kayapo Indians; 2) carnival; 3) the environment and natural resources; 4) the practice of Brazilian “country” music; 5) cultural mixture in religious life.

Understanding Brazil (Fall)

Understanding Brazil is a course designed for students to expand social sciences’ analytical skills while learning and exploring the history, culture, economy, the natural environment, and domestic and international politics of Brazil. The content and the flow of the lessons and activities combine interdisciplinary approaches. Overall, public policy issues direct the course core analytical attention to Brazilian life, its problems and suggested propositions for solutions.

Brazil Rising: Opportunites and Challenges (Spring)

This undergraduate course reviews Brazil’s five hundred year history, examining distinct socio-economic and political phases including the colonial, monarchy, republic, and military government phases. Particular focus will be given to the period since 1985, characterized by reinstatement of democracy, economic growth. The course will examine the role social movements and civil society, including such issues as environmental protection, indigenous peoples, agrarian reform, women’s rights, and urban development. Attention will be given to more recent government anti-poverty and social inclusion policies such as the conditional cash transfer programs, university quota, and what role international donor agencies, such as the World Bank, has played in this process. Finally, students will explore the singular similarities and differences with United States history.

Brazil Related Courses

IAFF 6358 - Indigenous Social Movements of Latin America (Fall)
The course will focus on indigenous movements as important political actors in Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Panama and Brazil. The impacts of Western modernization, cultural integrationist and neo-liberal national and rural development policies led indigenous social movements to rise up to challenge and alter them. The course will examine political empowerment, protest tactics, movement demands, organizational alliances, political ideologies/discourses and impact on public policies of economic development, national laws and international conventions. The role of political decentralization, local political autonomy, territorial rights and transnational linkages within nation-states and sub-regional cases will be assessed. Social and political conflicts and related policy changes over control of land, forests, illicit crops and the extraction of minerals and hydrocarbons figure prominently. Indigenous movement impact on the political processes of multi-cultural nation-building fostering more inclusive democratic citizenship rights will be a crosscutting thread running through the course.

Other GW Schools and Departments

School of Business

IBUS 6202 Regional Strategy For Multinationals

Columbian College Department of Romance, German & Slavic Languages & Literatures (RGSLL)

RGSSL offers Portuguese language and literature courses including Basic, Intermediate, and Intensive language, Culture and Civilization, and History of the Portuguese Language.
» Portuguese Language Course descriptions
Portuguese Schedule of Classes

Study Abroad

More than just encouraging students to study about Brazil from Washington, DC, the Brazil Initiative encourages students to experience Brazil in person and encourges students to consider studying abroad through programs run by the GW Office of Study abroad and the Elliott School of International Affairs. Students can consider short-term study abroad options that combine online modules with one or two week trips, often over Spring Break or during the summer or complete a full semester in Brazil.

Below is a description of 2017's course offering for short-term study abroad in Brazil

Sustaining Development: Economic, Energy and Environmental Policy in the Amazon and Brazil

Short-term study abroad course combining online modules and a two week trip to Rio de Janeiro and Manaus in Summer 2017