Brazil: Public Health, Race, and Human Rights

Key Features

The island of Itaparica, where students go on an educational excursion, with the Salvador skyline in the distance

The program examines Brazil's healthcare policies and allows students to observe through firsthand experience how these policies are put into practice, who is affected (and who is left out), and what the impacts of these policies look like. Students visit communities that emerged as part of the African diaspora and other communities in rural areas. Each program component broadens students' understanding of the healthcare needs and realities of Brazil's historically marginalized peoples and the implications of various approaches to healthcare provision.

Live in Salvador, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
While in Salvador, students attend classes at the program base and live with a host family. Salvador was Brazil's first capital city and the former center of the Portuguese colonial empire. In 1985, the city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its historical importance, cultural vibrancy, and aesthetic appeal. Read more about Salvador’s UNESCO designation. Today, Salvador is home to Brazil's largest Afro-Brazilian population.

Gain very different perspectives on healthcare in Brazil’s northeast.
By visiting a variety of healthcare facilities, including hospitals, Family Health Programs (PSFs), clinics, and Candomblé temples, students gain insight into different types of healthcare and the intricacies that surround each system. Students learn about the decision-making processes that draw patients to these facilities and how the centers strategize and adapt to meet the changing needs of their growing communities.

Visit quilombo communities.
Students visit at least two quilombos — urban and rural communities founded by former slaves — to meet with community members and participate in community welfare projects. The more than 1,000 quilombos in the northeast region of Brazil have been historically isolated and excluded from mainstream Brazilian society. Students gain firsthand exposure to communities facing extremely poor living conditions and very limited healthcare access.

Experience contrasting homestay communities.
Students have both urban and rural homestays to learn what daily life is like for average Brazilians living in a city compared to rural areas. Through these diverse living experiences, students witness the challenges and solutions facing different Brazilian communities in relation to issues of race, healthcare, and human rights.

Independent Study Project
Students spend the final four weeks of the semester engaged in an Independent Study Project (ISP). Students conduct their projects in Salvador or, with program approval, another area in the Brazilian northeast. Engaging in primary research, students critically examine a topic related to public policy and community welfare in Brazil. Sample ISP topic areas include:

  • Factors affecting human health in a quilombo community
  • Psychiatric illness and community outreach
  • The empowerment of women
  • Pre- and post-natal care
  • Healing in the Candomblé tradition
  • Brazilian HIV/AIDS policy and programs
  • The health situation of adolescent mothers and their offspring


Costs Dates



Credits: 16

Duration: 15 weeks

Program Base: Salvador

Language Study: Portuguese

Prerequisites: None, although a background in Portuguese, Spanish, or another Romance language is highly recommended. Read more...

Brazil

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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