Brazilian Studies and Portuguese

Brazilian Studies and Portuguese at Vanderbilt

Founded in 1947 as the country’s first Institute of Brazilian Studies, CLAS has maintained and strengthened its historic ties to Brazil. With student and faculty collaborations spanning history, languages, anthropology, political science, business, medicine, law, art and education, CLAS fosters a holistic approach to understanding Brazil’s past, present, and future.

Courses of Study and Student Exchanges

Vanderbilt is home to one of the top Portuguese programs in the country.  We have over 20 faculty specializing in Brazil (history; anthropology; Portuguese; Gaby Newelleconomics; medicine, health and society; art; law; business; biology; Earth and environmental sciences; sociology; political science; and medicine). Our library holdings on Brazil are among the strongest in the country. We also have a strong institutional partnership with the University of São Paulo (USP).  The center offers an innovative undergraduate Brazilian Studies Minor, as well as a joint Américas MBA between Vanderbilt Owen School of Management and USP-Fundação Instituto de Administração (FIA).  Each year USP-FIA students participate in a week-long program at the Owen School.  In addition, the Vanderbilt Law School has faculty and student exchanges with Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV)-São Paulo. We offer a summer program in Brazilian Portuguese and Culture in São Paulo through collaboration with Tulane University and PUC-São Paulo, as well as targeted Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships to study Brazilian Portuguese. We also host Brazilian STEM undergraduates and CAPES student exchanges. From 2001-2015 we collaborated with four Brazilian universities for four FIPSE-CAPES student exchange programs. To learn more, visit the FIPSE-CAPES alumni page.

Research and International Collaboration
The work of Vanderbilt’s Brazilianist Faculty spans several disciplines, including the social sciences, humanities, and medicine.  Our renowned history program focuses on nation-building and the economic and business history of Brazil, and is a pioneer of Atlantic World Studies and Brazil’s historic connections with Africa and Europe. We are home to a major digitization project of Brazilian seventeenth to nineteenth-century secular and ecclesiastical documents (ESSSS), led by Jane Landers, and have a strong anthropology program that focuses native peoples and culture.

#90 Lazy Sunday in Mangabal e Montanha

Joint research projects on economic policies and higher education in Brazil bring together Vanderbilt’s Peabody School of Education and University of São Paulo’s School of Economics. Collaborative conferences in São Paulo and Nashville have focused on U.S. and Brazilian higher education policy, higher education finance, access and residency issues and performance incentives. There is a deep history of ties between the Graduate Program in Economic Development (GPED) and Brazil.  In addition, the Humphreys Fellows program brings accomplished mid-career leaders from Brazil and other countries to Vanderbilt for an academic year to study at our Peabody School of Education. Vanderbilt has collaborative research grant opportunities with the Research Foundation for the State of São Paulo (FAPESP).

The Vanderbilt Trans-Institutional Programs (TIPS) Initiative “Building a Multidisciplinary Approach to Assessing the Quality of Health Care in Brazil” brings together a group of faculty from across the University and Medical School. They are developing a survey that will assess healthcare satisfaction in the Rio de Janeiro favela, Rocinha. The group meets regularly to collaborate on the creation of a survey instrument, with plans to begin carrying out pre-testing in the coming months. For more information about this project and the related speaker series, please click here.

An innovative collaborative art project between Vanderbilt visual artists and USP colleagues involves anthropology and philosophy to explore the history and representation of the Brazilian city, Brazilian architecture, and issues of cultural and religious responses to environmental change. This collaboration has led to exhibitions in São Paulo and Nashville.

LAPOP, the largest public opinion poll in the hemisphere, has partnered with several Brazilian agencies and institutions. The Brazilian survey covers 2,482 households, representing five main geographic regions Vanderbilt’s Institute for Coffee Studies has worked #64 Barbearia do Joaquimclosely with Brazilian coffee producers’ associations to promote biomedical research on health and coffee.

Additional projects include: the Regional Prospective Observation Research for Tuberculosis (RePORT Brazil), which is a joint collaboration between Vanderbilt and six sites in Brazil funded by NIH and the Brazilian Ministry of Health; Caribbean, Central and South American Network (CCASAnet) for HIV epidemiology with sites in Rio, São Paulo, and Belo Horizonte; and Coorte Brasil, which is a retrospective study of Brazilian and United States clinical cohorts examining HIV and cancer.

Brazilian Studies Reading Group

The Brazilian Studies Reading Group (BSRG) is co-sponsored by the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities and the Center for Latin American Studies. This group brings together faculty and graduate students from history, political science, literature, sociology, art, anthropology, music, pedagogy, and Latin American studies.  The Brazilian Studies Reading Group aims at raising the profile of research related to Brazil on Vanderbilt’s campus by bringing visiting speakers and providing a forum for the discussion of contemporary Brazilian topics. For upcoming BSRG events, please visit the CLAS Calendar.

CLAS sponsors an annual Brazil Week with capoeira, soccer matches, music and poetry, a Festa Junina celebration, and a number of other events which are open to the public including lectures by visiting speakers, films and professional conferences.

The CLAS Outreach program offers K-12 teacher professional development workshops to introduce Brazil and the Portuguese language in primary and secondary schools in Tennessee and across the country. We also conduct workshops for businesses with interests in Brazil.

Vanderbilt-Brazil Advisory Board

Founded in 2016, this group was formed by VU alumni living in Brazil and CLAS. The purpose of the Advisory Board is to strengthen the collaborative ties that connect Vanderbilt to Brazilian institutions. The founding members of the Advisory Board are leaders in their respective fields and demonstrate a commitment to building Vanderbilt’s reputation as an innovator in the field of Brazilian Studies.

  • Luis Paulo Rosenberg (Chair)- President, Rosenberg & Associados/ Associate Director, Rosenberg & Associados Consultores Empresariais Ltda
  • James Wright- Professor at USP/Director of FIA International Executive MBAs
  • Ibrahim Eris- Former President, Banco Central do Brasil/Partner, Linear Consultoria
  • Claudio de Moura Castro- Columnist, Veja magazine/ Advisory Board member, Faculdade Pitagoras
  • Mauro Benevides Filho- Congressman, State of Ceará/Member, Department of Infrastructure for State of Ceará
  • Francisco “Chico” Mussnich- Founding Partner, Barbosa, Mussnich, Aragao Law Firm
  • Virgilio Almeida- Secretary for Information Technology, Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation (MCTI)
  • Jorge Jatobá- Director of Finance, Consultoria Economica e Planejamento (CEPLAM)
  • Ricardo Pratesi- Professor, Universidade de Brasilia
  • Tom Trebat- Director, Columbia University Global Center (Rio de Janeiro)
  • Maria Regina Soares de Lima-Professor, UERJ & Institute of Social Studies and Politics (IESP)/ Coordinator, Political Observatory of South America (OPSA)


Vanderbilt Faculty who work in Brazil