Higher Education in Brazil by William Smith

How is higher education different in your host country from the US? Think about overall institutional structure as well as the pedagogy that is employed in the classroom. What strategies have you used to navigate these new rules and mores in these academic settings?

Let me preface my journal entry by noting that my university, FGV is considered the Ritz Carlton of universities in São Paulo and Brazil in general.  It’s not uncommon to see damas with Louis Vuitton purses strolling the halls, finance majors flashing their Rolexes, and even secret service-looking security guards patrolling the entrances and exits.  Once you get over the first floor cafeteria for which you pay two dollars per kilogram of food and the casual sushi bar available to students, FGV’s classroom setting is worth discussing.

FGV’s international program in management is conducted in English with class offerings in English that relate to emerging market economies, Brazilian foreign policy, and even the impact of BRICS countries on the global world order.  These offerings were a welcome addition to my already international focus through the Altman Program, and I knew that I could never find classes this perfect for my interests back in the United States.

Interestingly, at FGV, every classroom is sponsored by a multinational corporation.  Since FGV was founded with the support of American President John F. Kennedy, there is a brass bust of good ole JFK in the first floor lobby, accompanied by all of the names of the sponsoring organizations and institutions of FGV.  Sometimes I would have classes in the Bloomberg classroom, other times I would attend lectures in the Odebrecht (a renowned Brazilian construction company), with state of the art technology and air conditioning systems, arguably the most important part of the school’s amenities.

Ultimately, however, I learned that the best part about my classes was not only the professors, but also the nature in which my professors challenged me to ignore my own lens through which I view the world so that I could hopefully, by the end of the semester, gain insight into how the emerging world views developed countries and the present world order.  I have newfound opinions about Brazil’s positions in multilateral organizations, its thoughts about globalization and free market trade, Brazil’s role as a regional power, and even the reasons behind a rather rocky and unstable relationship with the United States.  I feel that my changed ideologies is one of the most important things that I gained from my experience in São Paulo, and something that I hope to bring back to the Tulane campus and my future company upon graduation.

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