Economy, Technology, and People

Brazil Today
Friday, September 11, 2015 to Sunday, September 13, 2015

Brazil Today

Brazil Today is a one-credit (Pitt)/ three-unit (CMU) mini course, consisting of 14 hours of classes over a weekend, with a major paper assignment to be completed for credit. This course is created for undergraduate and graduate students. However, K-12 educators, business and community members are welcome to attend all or sections of the course for free. The course will open with two keynote lectures on Friday evening on an overview of the issues. This will be followed by instructional lectures on Saturday on the various themes by experts in the fields.  Sunday morning will be a discussion of two case studies and a panel discussion by the speakers on future challenges and some possible projections/ recommendations.

As global citizens, students need to have a working knowledge of other countries, which are important in shaping the corporate, social and political world. As a rising state in the world economy, Brazil’s status in the business and in world affairs is shifting.

Course Learning Outcomes:
At the end of the course, the students will:

  1. Have a general understanding of the corporate, geo-political, cultural and social factors that define Brazil’s economic, cultural and technological landscape at the present time.
  2. Explore one of these factors in depth, through the research paper.

All material will be provided through recommended readings.

This short course will explore how various intersections of economy, society, and identity interact in Brazil and in the perceived position of Brazil as an emerging world economy. It will explore questions such as:

  • How does Brazil's history and diversity reflect in the policies and the economy of Brazil? In the way Brazilians react with the market?
  • What are today’s challenges in attaining equity in quality of life in Brazil? What are some of its greatest needs?
  • What are impediments to Brazil’s economic and business growth?
  • What are some of the salient features of the U.S.-Brazilian relations?
  • How have cultural traditions and modernizations integrated in Brazil? What have been some cultural responses to globalization?
  • What lies ahead? What are the opportunities and challenges in Brazil’s immediate future?

Due to the immersive nature of the course, students are expected to attend all sessions on all three days. Further, each student will be required to read the assigned book and develop a research paper on one dimension of modern Brazil that has been introduced in class. The paper should be based on one of the topics covered in the course. The length of the term paper will be 5-10 pages, double spaced in 11 point font. Research papers are due by Friday, November 20 at 5:00pm and should be submitted through Carnegie Mellon's Blackboard or University of Pittsburgh’s Courseweb assignment tab for the course.

Sample topics for term papers include:

  • Historical factors in the development of Brazil’s market economy
  • Factors that encourage or retard technological innovation in Russia
  • The role of education in making Brazil a world power
  • Financing innovation in Brazil: foreign, multinational, and Russian enterprises
  • Education and innovation in Brazil
  • Ethnicity and educational opportunity
  • Brazil’s economy—communist, socialist, capitalist, or something else?
  • Global forces impacting the Russian economy
  • Global forces impacting the Russian education system

Audit Option:
Carnegie Mellon students may also audit the course by attending all the sessions, but not writing the paper. You should be sure to process an audit form, both if you are auditing from the beginning or later if you have decided not to do a paper and want your status changed from credit to audit. Pitt students may also audit but students must choose this option before the beginning of the course and it will not appear on your transcript as having taken the course. Once the course has started students will be graded based on how they signed up for the course.

The paper is not a book or chapter review, but an overall analysis that demonstrates your reading and thinking on the subject. First articulate an organizing question that you will attempt to answer, and proceed from there to find sources. The organizing question has to be an exploration on one of the issues or aspects addressed by one or several speakers in the course. As this is a generalist course, we don’t expect a detailed economic or political analysis, but a thorough literature review on the topic and your synthesis of these readings to answer the question with a critical perspective.

Instructors (responsible for grades and class organization): 
Professor Amy Burkert ( is responsible for grades at Carnegie Mellon University, and Veronica Dristas ( at the University of Pittsburgh, respectively. Please send an e-mail to us individually if you have questions regarding grades.

Sponsored by:  
University of Pittsburgh: Global Studies CenterCenter for Latin American StudiesDepartment of Economics, Katz Graduate School of Business, the Swanson School of EngineeringInternational Business Center, and College of Business AdministrationCarnegie Mellon University: H. John Heinz III College, Office of the Provost,Division of Student Affairs 

Recommended readings and Recent Publications for Dr. Andrews

Readings on racial inequality in Brazil:

  • Marcelo Paixão and Graziella Moraes Silva, “Mixed and Unequal: New Perspectives on Brazilian Ethnoracial Relations,” in Edward Telles and PERLA, Pigmentocracies: Ethnicity, Race, and Color in Latin America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014), 172-217.
  • Michelle Peria and Stanley R. Bailey, “Remaking Racial Inclusion: Combining Race and Class in Brazil’s New Affirmative Action,” Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies 9, 2 (2014), 156-176.
  • George Reid Andrews, “Racial Inequality in Brazil and the United States, 1990-2010,” Journal of Social History 47, 4 (2014), 829-54.

Recommended Readings and Recent Publications for Dr. Christopher Belasco

Recommended Readings:

  • Barrientos, Armando "The Rise of Social Assistance in Brazil" in Development and Change. International Institute for Social Studies: The Hague, 2013. p.887-910.
  • Hall, Anthony "The Last Shall be First: Political Dimensions of Conditional Cash Transfers in Brazil" in Journal of Policy Practice, 11:25-41 , 2012.

Recent Publications:

  • Belasco, Christopher, Picard, Louis A. and Terry Buss (as lead author). 2015. “Foreign Aid, Institutions, and Human Development.” Sustainable Development and Human Security in Africa: Governance as the Missing Link. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC/ Taylor and Francis.
  • Belasco, Christopher, Picard, Louis A. and Terry Buss. 2015. “Human Development and the Millennium Development Goals: Donors, Foreign Aid and Sustainability.” Sustainable Development and Human Security in Africa: Governance as the Missing Link. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC/ Taylor and Francis.

Recommended Readings and Recent Publications for Dr. James Craft:

Recommended Readings:

Recommended Readings and Recent Publications for Bruno Hoepers:

Recommended Readings:

  • Alston, L. J., Melo, M. A., Mueller, B., & Pereira, C. (2006). Political institutions, policymaking processes and policy outcomes in Brazil.
  • Ames, B. (2009). The deadlock of democracy in Brazil. University of Michigan Press.
  • Bersch, K., Praça, S., & Taylor, M. M. (2013, May). State Capacity and Bureaucratic Autonomy Within National States: Mapping the Archipelago of Excellence in Brazil. In Latin American Studies Association Conference. Washington. Disponível em http://cepesp. files. wordpress. com/2013/06/bersch-praca-taylor-state-capacity-and-autonomy-may-1_lasa. pdf.
  • Figueiredo, A. C., & Limongi, F. (2000). Presidential power, legislative organization, and party behavior in Brazil. Comparative Politics, 151-170.
  • Mainwaring, S. (1993). Presidentialism, Multipartism, and Democracy The Difficult Combination. Comparative political studies, 26(2), 198-228.
  • Power, T. J. (2010). Optimism, pessimism, and coalitional presidentialism: Debating the institutional design of Brazilian democracy. Bulletin of Latin American Research, 29(1), 18-33.
  • Praça, S., Freitas, A., & Hoepers, B. (2011). Political appointments and coalition management in Brazil, 2007-2010. Journal of Politics in Latin America, 3(2), 141-17

Recommended Readings and Recent Publications for Dr. Brian Kovak:

Recommended Readings:

  • Moreira, Maruicio Mesquita “Brazil’s Trade Policy: Old and New Issues” in Brazil as an Economic Superpower? Understanding Brazil’s Changing Role in the Global Economy. eds, Lael Brainard and Leonardo Martinez-Diaz. Washington DC: Brookings, 2009. p.137-156.
  • Almeida, Rita and Pedro Carneiro “Enforcement of Labor Regulation and Informality.” American Economic Journal: Applied Economics. 2012. p.64-89. Students should focus on Section “I. Labor Market Regulation and Enforcement in Brazil.”
  • Lustig, Nora, Luis F. Lopez-Calva, and Eduardo Ortiz-Juarez “Declining Inequality in Latin America in the 2000s: The Cases of Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico.” World Development. 2013.  p.129-141.

Recent Publications: