In 2001, Washington and Lee University received a grant from the US Department of Education Fund for Improvement of Post-Secondary Education, to begin a consortium with the Universidade Federal do Amazonas (UFAM) and the Universidade Estadual do Norte Fluminense (UENF). UENF and UFAM received similar funding from the Brazilian Ministry of Education. UFAM is a federal university located in Manaus, the capital of Amazonas State. UENF is a state university in Campos dos Goytacases in Rio de Janeiro state, a 3 hour car drive from Rio de Janeiro city. This project was funded from 2001 to 2012, and focused on environment and sustainable development.
The project is now being internally funded but has broadened from a focus on the environment to a focus on interdisciplinary studies in general. Topics could include environment, poverty, sustainable development, public policy, race relations, educational policy, women's and gender studies, culture and society or other areas of interest to the student. The only restriction is that we don't want students to take the same courses that they could take at W&L. In other words, we don't want you to make the exchange and take introductory chemistry, introductory calculus, Spanish and microeconomic theory. These courses in Brazil would be essentially the same as at W&L.
This study abroad program is different from most in that it is not a program specifically designed for American students to study abroad. It is a program designed for you to attend the Brazilian university in the same fashion that Brazilian students attend the university. Also, it is not designed as a profit center; it exists for your benefit. Since we have over a dozen years of collaboration, and very close personal relationships between Brazilian faculty and W&L faculty, you are given much more individual care and mentoring than in many study abroad programs. You will become part of a research team of Brazilian professors and students at either UFAM or UENF. We encourage you to make the exchange as early in your academic career as possible, enabling you to return to Brazil in subsequent summers for additional research which could then become part of a senior thesis or capstone project.
The typical pattern is for the student to take the first two Portuguese courses at W&L and then go to Brazil around the first of July for an intensive Portuguese course and to become familiar with your surroundings. The academic semester (the second semester in the Brazilian system) then begins in late August or early September and continues until a few days before Christmas. Students generally take three courses and an independent study. Note that accommodations are made for fall athletes, who could begin the program in early January and continue through August. January and February are vacation months in Brazil, so the fall athlete would start additional Portuguese studies in early January, with the semester starting in late February or early March. The semester would end in late June or early July, but the student could stay through August. There is the ability to make a full year exchange for interested students.
Financial subsidies are available to help with summer expenses. We have designed the program to give you the summer and fall semester (or winter semester and summer) at the same cost as one semester at W&L. Any financial aid that you receive would travel with you, although there may be minor readjustments based on cost differences. Since this is an exchange program, you would continue to pay your tuition at W&L.