Summer Abroad in South America/Brazil


The USC School of Architecture Summer in Brazil was introduced in recognition the demographic changes that have occurred at this University; as a microcosm of its urban; regional and national context and the rising status of Brazil as a both a world class economic powerhouse and cultural entrepôt. These dramatic changes are reflected in the most recent USC Strategic Plan, which seeks to position our University as the “ intellectual, creative and cultural wellspring” of Latin America as well as the Pacific Rim, to “ foster mutual understanding and encourage citizenship in a global context.”


Brazil is the largest country in Latin America, and fifth largest in the world, with one of its fastest growing economies. Its growth is due to its extensive agricultural and manufacturing potential, skilled workforce and rapidly developing scientific and technological sector. Sao Paulo is the undisputed generator and crucible of that growth, and unquestionably equals or surpasses other world cities, such as New York, London or Shanghai, today, in terms of sheer dynamism, vibrancy and opportunity.


The primary goal of this program, then, is to immerse our students into the dynamic culture of both Brazil and Sao Paulo at critically important, and exciting time in its history, as it steps out onto the world stage as a global power to be reckoned with. Because of the Colonial background that it shares with many of the other nations of Central and South America and the concomitant, institutionalized exploitation of its bountiful natural resources that has followed, Brazil has remained in the shadows, and has been taken for granted by North Americans, when it has students in the richly textured and highly diverse culture of Brazil and Sao been considered at all. After decades of high GDP growth, at a rate that has consistently been far greater than that of the United States, however, Brazil can obviously not be ignored any more.


We are based at the Fundacao Armando Alvares Penteado (FAAP), which is one of the most prestigious schools in Brazil. The FAAP campus is in the middle of the Sao Paulo, in its safest, most upscale Higienopolis district. It has an arts and humanities focus, with architecture as one of several disciplines that also include photography, fashion design and film. It is based on the Bauhaus atelier model but also has a very impressive digital facility. The mission of the Program is to use the professional expertise of the USC School of Architecture Faculty and students, in collaboration with those at FAAP, to help disadvantaged people and communities throughout the region. As a result of its tumultuous history, there is now a wide gap between the very rich and extremely poor in Brazil, as evidenced by the Favelas, or spontaneous settlements for the poor that are woven throughout its cities. These offer an opportunity for hands‐on, real time, projects in which our students will join with local partners in community oriented, humanitarian based efforts. Due to its rapid growth, Brazil has also developed a well-established and extremely creative cadre of architects who are as yet little known outside of their own sphere of influence. That is about to change, and our students will have the opportunity to meet many of these young professionals and to visit their work, before it does.


In addition to its base in Brazil, the Program will also travel to Peru and Mexico, in an effort to widen the scope of the student experience of the entire Central and South American region, and to position the focal point of its research within a the larger Latin American framework.


Establishing the historical foundation of the entire region, from the past through to the present, is an important part of that goal, and so the Program will also study many of the most significant monuments of the Inca, Aztec and Mayan civilizations first hand, because they have helped to form the disparate identities that characterize Central and South America.