Brazil Initiative

Expanding scholarship and research on South America

By Deserae E. del Campo

Expanding scholarship and research on South America

By Deserae E. del Campo
New interdisciplinary initiative seeks to create the foremost center for scientific research about Brazil.

To create a collaborative vision for addressing  Brazil’s most pressing problems and opportunities, the University of Miami College of Arts and Sciences has established the Brazil Initiative with the goal of developing a range of scientific research, education, and outreach centered on Florida’s largest trading partner and one of the world’s largest economies.

“As the hemispheric university, we stand as a hub for connectivity and development in research excellence and innovation in the Caribbean and South America,” said Leonidas Bachas, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “Our talented faculty members understand the importance of implementing this new initiative, particularly at a crucial time in Brazil’s history. These dedicated scholars will not only create new links to and from Brazil, the largest and most populous country in South America, but discuss current problems and find solutions for the betterment of the Brazilian people.”

The new initiative brings together a diverse group of faculty members across the college who include, among others, José Maria Cardoso da Silva, from the Department of Geography and Regional Studies, Michael Touchton, from the Department of Political Science, and Mauro Galetti Rodrigues, from the Department of Biology.

“Brazil is one of the world’s environmental superpowers, a mature economy, and an important player in the global geopolitics,” said Cardoso da Silva. “What happens in Brazil can have consequences everywhere. UM is a global university, so to have an initiative focused on the largest Latin American country of the region is a natural step to take.”

Along with its mission to propel in-depth scientific research to solve current problems facing Brazilian society, the new initiative aims to create opportunities for UM students to learn about Brazil and for Brazilian students to learn about UM. The initiative’s objective is to create the foremost center for scientific research about Brazil, uniting public and private partners and the world’s best scientific minds in a shared enterprise to achieve breakthroughs that will transform the country’s future.

“Our leadership team has decades of experience conducting groundbreaking research on Brazil public policy, cultural diversity, environment, and social inclusion, and we have a fantastic network of partners in all Brazilian regions,” said Galetti Rodrigues. “The goal is to leverage these partnerships and transform UM as the most important hub for Brazilian studies outside Brazil.”

The initiative will establish long-term partnerships with scientists, corporations, foundations, and nonprofit organizations in both Brazil and the U.S. to address issues such as public health and public education policies, biodiversity conservation, climatic change, local development, and entrepreneurship, to name a few. Future plans include creating an advisory council made up of members from the private sector and academic community and developing partnerships with Brazilian organizations.

“Brazil faces enormous challenges, especially surrounding the current COVID-19 pandemic. However, the country has historically been very innovative in designing policies to address many of the most pressing problems,” adds Touchton. “My research on public health and education shows that good governance can improve outcomes dramatically, even in areas with low revenue and few resources. Brazilian innovations can thus serve as a model in many cases and inspire other countries across the global south.”

To learn more about the Brazil Initiative, visit Brazil.as.miami.edu