Office of International Programs

Brown/Consortium for Advanced Studies Abroad (CASA) in Brazil










At a Glance

City: Rio de Janeiro
Partner: Pontificia Universidade Católica (PUC – Rio)
Housing: Host Families 
Language requirement:  POBS 0400
Calendar: Semester or Year 


This CASA program builds upon one of Brown University’s longest running study abroad programs, developed over thirty years ago in close collaboration with Brown’s Department of Portuguese and Brazilian Studies.  In its new and expanded iteration, CASA-Brazil harnesses the academic strengths and research ties to Brazil of the full Consortium membership to provide exceptional study abroad experiences to serious students. CASA’s key institutional partner is the Pontifícia Universidade Católica (PUC-Rio), Brazil’s premier private university, consistently ranked among the top universities in the country. 

With some 15,000 students and 1,500 faculty members and researchers, PUC-Rio enjoys a reputation as one of the top research universities in Brazil. Students who participate in the CASA Brazil program enroll in courses across 26 departments organized in four academic centers: Theology and Human Sciences, Social Sciences, Science and Technology, and Biomedical Sciences.  

CASA-Brazil’s selection of Rio de Janeiro as its program location is deliberate.  As the second largest city in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro is Brazil’s emotional and cultural center where, situated between beaches and a jutting mountain range, life is varied, culturally diverse and intense.  PUC-Rio is located in Gávea, a charming and safe neighborhood. Several city bus lines pass by the university, and the Botanical Gardens and Leblon beach are within walking distance of the campus.  CASA Brazil’s study center, at the Matteo Ricci Research Center, Estrada de Gávea, 50, is a vibrant intellectual space located in close proximity to PUC-Rio.     

Consortium for Advanced Studies Abroad (CASA)

The Consortium for Advanced Studies Abroad (CASA) is a non-profit academic consortium of eleven leading comprehensive research universities formed for the purpose of organizing and delivering rigorous education abroad programs in collaboration with leading world universities.  CASA member institutions are Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Melbourne, Northwestern University, Trinity College Dublin, the University of Pennsylvania, and Vanderbilt University. 

Academic Calendar

Fall Semester

  • July – December

Spring Semester

  • January – June

Academic Program

The academic program, for both the fall and spring semester terms, is divided into a required Language Orientation and Cultural Pro-seminar (3 semester hours), and The Semester Program (14-16 semester hours).  

Language Orientation and Cultural Pro-seminar

3 semester hours (60 language contact hours plus 30 hours lecture and field component) 

The Language Orientation and Cultural Pro-seminar is an intensive course during the first four weeks of the program in Rio de Janeiro (three weeks in July for fall and January/February for spring) and Salvador (one week in August for fall and February for spring) prior to the start of the regular academic semester.  Host institutions are PUC-Rio (Rio de Janeiro component) and the Associação Cultural Brasil-Estados Unidos/Brazil-US Cultural Association, ACBEU (Salvador component).

The Pro-seminar is comprised of four components:

  • Four to six lectures taught by PUC-Rio faculty on topics dealing with Brazilian Culture, History and Society.
  • An Intensive Portuguese language course (60 hours) including weekly city-trips and visits to museums and cultural institutions in Rio de Janeiro.
  • Excursions to the cities of Paraty and Petropolis, daytrips to the Sugarloaf and the Corcovado mountains, and an introductory meeting arranged by the International Office about course registration, federal police visits, the visa process, and student life in Rio de Janeiro. 
  • A trip to the state of Bahia during the week preceding the start of the regular semester for an intensive program of lectures and visits focusing on Afro-Bahian history and culture. This program is organized by the Associação Cultural Brasil-Estados Unidos (ACBEU) in Salvador.









In addition – and considered an integral part of the Pro-seminar – a series of pro-seminar lectures will be organized over the course of the semester term around a select topic that, appropriate for Brazil, transcends national boundaries and is part of a research collaboration across CASA Divisional Centers in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Spain.  For 2018-19, the selected topic focuses on The Recovery of Historical Memory.  Lectures will include: 

  • The Brazilian Black Movement during the Military Dictatorship 
    Prof. Angela Paiva, Department of Social Science, PUC-Rio
  • The Work of the Truth Commission and Human Rights in Contemporary Brazil 
    Prof. Márcia Nina Bernardes, Department of Law, PUC-Rio
  • Historical Memory in Brazilian Film 
    Prof. Daniel Caetano, Department of Film, UFF
  • Resistance to Censorship in Brazilian Musical Culture from Samba to Funk 
    Prof. Júlio Diniz, Department of Letters, PUC-Rio
  • The Importance of NGOs and Other “Third Sector” Organizations for Brazilian Democracy 
    Francisco Barreto, Innovation manager at VivaRio
  • (Re)membering the Nation: Antônio Callado's Everlasting
    Prof Luiz F. Valente, Departments of Portuguese and Brazilian Studies and Comparative Literature, Brown University

Intensive Portuguese Language Course 
60 hours language immersion

As part of the Language Orientation and Cultural Pro-seminar, this intensive language course, offered in July and January/February, is delivered through PUC-Rio’s widely-recognized Portuguese as a Second Language program.  Taught by qualified PUC-Rio language faculty, this course is required for all CASA program participants and will provide students with a strong foundation upon which they will carry out their semester studies. 

In order to place candidates according to their proficiency in the Portuguese language, students will take a Portuguese Placement Test Online prior to their arrival at the program. Upon receiving confirmation of the Portuguese test results, students will be able to preliminarily register online for The Semester Program courses as well as for the Portuguese as a Foreign Language class corresponding to their respective levels.

Upon arriving at PUC-Rio, students will also take an oral test in order to confirm their language level. Any necessary adjustments can be made during the Add/Drop period.

Excursions during the Language Orientation and Cultural Proseminar 

  • Shortly after arrival in Rio de Janeiro, students will spend a weekend in the small village of Paraty where they have the opportunity to study and experience first-hand the environment of preserved colonial architecture and history. 
  • A day trip to the town of Petropolis with a visit to the palace of the second Brazilian emperor, Dom Pedro II.
  • A day-long city tour around Rio de Janeiro with visits to the Sugarloaf and to the Corcovado Mountain.
  • Visits to the Republican Museum, to the Museum of the Indigenous People, to the Metropolitan Theater and to the Cultural Institute of Moreira Salles. The group will take a walk to the historical center of Rio de Janeiro with visits to the Pedra de Sal and to the Morro da Providencia.
  • One-week trip to Salvador (Bahia).  Students undertake an intensive program of excursions and visits to historical and cultural sites of interest in the state capital of Bahia and surrounding areas. During the morning sessions, invited local specialists in the African heritage in Brazilian culture offer lectures at the ACBEU center.

The Semester Program at PUC-Rio

(14-16 semester hours)

Upon completion of the Language Orientation and Cultural Pro-seminar, Brown students enroll in PUC-Rio courses taught in Portuguese for a total of 15 weeks. Students enroll in three direct enrollment courses (10-12 semester hours) plus Portuguese as a Second Language  designed to bring students’ formal language skills to the highest possible level — for 4 semester hours (totaling 14-16 semester hours). Direct enrollment courses can be found across many academic areas, including History, Anthropology, Literature, International Relations, Psychology, Political Science, Economics, Geography, Cultural Studies, Art History, Biology, Physics and Engineering. The link to direct enrollment courses can be found hereMost direct enrollment courses meet for 60 hours over the course of the 15-week semester (4 semester hours).  









A sampling of direct enrollment courses available at PUC-Rio include:  

Cultural Studies/Art History 

  • Brazilian Culture
  • History of the Press in Brazil
  • History of Brazilian Cinema
  • History of Advertising in Brazil
  • Public Films and Commercials
  • Documentary Cinema
  • History of Modern Art


  • Contemportary Brazilian Ecoomy
  • General Economic History II


  • Physical Geography--Geomorphology
  • Human Geography--Agrarian Space and Production of Work
  • Human Geography--Urban Space
  • Human & Economic Geography
  • Spatial Formation of Latin America
  • Biogeography
  • Regional Geography--Modern World I

History/Political Science/International Studies

  • Brazilian History II
  • Brazilian History IV
  • History of the Americas IV
  • History of the Americas VI
  • Social and Political Organizations of Brazil
  • Political Institutions of Brazil
  • Political, Economic and Social History of Brazil
  • Constitutional Law I
  • Brazil’s Foreign Policy


  • Brazilian Literature--Poetry Masters
  • Brazilian Literature Masterworks--Prose Masters
  • Discourse Semantics
  • Individual Research Project
  • American Literature
  • Communication & Brazilian Literature


  • Psychological Systems IV (Psychoanalysis)

Religious Studies

  • Pastoral: Afro-Brazilian Cults
  • History of the Church in Latin America

Social Anthropology

  • Ideologies in Latin America
  • Sociology of Everyday Life
  • Cultural Anthropology
  • Brazilian Anthropology I

Internship and Volunteer Opportunities

Students interested in a practical engagement experience can utilize PUC-Rio’s Coordenação Central de Estágios e Serviços Profissionais (CCESP) to locate non-credit bearing internship and volunteer possibilities in and around Acari, Parque de Cidade, and Rocinha.  PUC-Rio students can engage in activities such as health care, engineering, small community planning, and vocational education.  

Past students have been involved with the following projects in and around Rio de Janeiro:

  • Providing care to underserved children at the Integrated Social Development Centre Vargem Grande, RJ; 
  • Construction of a containment wall and involvement with an environmental education project at the Favela Rio das Pedras;
  • Revitalization of housing conditions in the Alto da Boa Vista (Tijuaçu, Fazendinha and Furnas); 
  • Serving as translator for various social projects at the Translation Center for the Study of Social Exclusion
BRICS Policy Center

The BRICS Policy Center/Center for Studies and Research is a joint initiative of the Rio City Hall and PUC-Rio. A think tank established in 2010, the center has five research teams working on the following topics relevant to Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa: International Politics and the Multilateral Agenda; Development, Commerce, Finance and Investment; Technical Cooperation and Science and Technology; Urban Development and Sustainability; and Economic and Political Analysis. Past students have been involved in the coordination of workshops, colloquia, lectures, and seminars to debate relevant topics, allowing them to engage with recognized experts in their fields.


PUC-Rio and CASA Brazil offer an enriched opportunity for students to experience the Brazilian way of life by placing them in a home-stay program.  CASA Brazil students will be placed in home-stays located in the south zone of the city, the same as the university. Most families live near the university, within 30- 40 minutes from campus by city bus.

Host families are carefully screened by the Coordinating Center for International Cooperation (CCCI) and approved by the CASA Brazil Center Director.  They represent a wide range of incomes and situations, from single families, to couples without children, to families with children. 

CASA Brazil Center Director:  Dr. Karl Erik Schøllhammer

Prior to his recent full-time appointment as CASA Brazil Center Director, Dr. Karl Erik Schøllhammer served, for 12 years, as the Resident Director of the Brown-in-Brazil program at PUC-Rio.  He holds an M.A. in Nordic Literature and a Ph.D. in Semiotics and Latin American Literature from the Aarhus University (Denmark).

Prof. Schøllhammer brings to the position a strong balance of practitioner experience supporting international students studying at PUC-Rio and accomplished academic experience.  In 1994, he arrived at PUC-Rio as a professor in the Department of Language and Literature, where for 23 years he taught comparative literature, Brazilian literature, arts and culture, and literary theory.  On three occasions during his tenure at PUC-Rio, he served as chair of the department. 

Prof. Schøllhammer has taught at the Aarhus University, at the Federal University of Brasília, and has been Obel Guest Professor at Aalborg University, Denmark. His research focuses on contemporary Brazilian Culture, Literature, and the Arts, with special attention to representation of violence, exclusion, and trauma. 

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