DRCLAS Will Open a Brazil office in 2006

Jason Dyett to Become Its Program Director

By Tomás Amorim

Harvard’s David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (DRCLAS) is delighted to announce the opening of a new Brazil Office in São Paulo. The mission of the Harvard Brazil Office—which will begin operations on July 1, 2006—will be manifold: developing closer ties between Harvard University and leading academic and research institutions in Brazil; supporting faculty research and teaching in and on Brazil; helping Harvard students find meaningful study abroad, internship, and research opportunities in Brazil; and recruiting talented Brazilian scholars and students to Harvard. Made possible thanks to the generosity and vision of Jorge Paulo Lemann AB ‘61, the Harvard Brazil Office in São Paulo will serve the entire University throughout Brazil.

From its early days, DRCLAS has worked to place Brazil at the center of Harvard’s map. Its efforts augmented following the establishment of the Jorge Paulo Lemann Endowment in 1999, the Center has hosted more than a dozen Lemann Visiting Scholars and Fellows as well as a number of Robert F. Kennedy Visiting Professors from Brazil, including Elio Gaspari, Simon Schwartzman, Teresa Sales, Monica Hirst, and Roberto Schwartz. This Spring, the Lemann Visiting Scholar is Professor Roquinaldo Ferreira, who is working on the book Slaving and Cross-Cultural Trade in the Atlantic World: Angola, Brazil, and Kongo, 1650-1830.

In the Spring of 2005, the Center sponsored a “Brazil Semester at Harvard” which featured a wide range of seminars, workshops, conferences, and other activities. DRCLAS launched the “Brazil Semester” with a talk at Sanders Theater by Gilberto Gil, the musician and current Minister of Culture of Brazil, and concluded it with a standing-room-only screening and lively discussion with documentary filmmaker João Moreira Salles. Two of the many leading academics who specialize on Brazil and participated in the “Brazil Semester” have recently joined the Harvard History and Romance Languages and Literatures departments, ably filling lacunae in the University’s Brazil offerings. Professor Kenneth Maxwell is teaching Brazilian and comparative colonial history, Professor Ihar Sevcenko literature and popular culture. Coincident with the opening of the Brazil Office in São Paulo, and as a measure intended to strengthen Brazilian Studies at Harvard, DRCLAS will also establish a Brazil Program, in Cambridge, with Professor Maxwell as its director.

Following a model pioneered by our successful DRCLAS Regional Office in Santiago, Chile, a primary objective of the Brazil Office will be to support the research of faculty, across the University, who are engaged in the study of, and teaching on, Brazil. A recent inventory of Harvard faculty throughout the College and the ten graduate and professional schools has identified 85 professors and lecturers with a professional interest in Brazil. The Brazil Office will aim to augment faculty engagement in Brazil by strengthening support for existing projects and facilitating new Harvard faculty activities, academic research, and scholarly collaborations. The office will include facilities to provide logistical support for faculty research, conferences, workshops, and courses as well as assistance in gaining access to Brazilian archives, libraries, and field sites.

The Brazil Office will also develop a wide range of new programs and activities for undergraduate and graduate students. In recent years, increasing numbers of Harvard College students are studying and working abroad. Between 2001 and 2005, the total number of undergraduate students studying abroad nearly tripled. In addition, growing numbers of both undergraduate and graduate students have engaged in research, internships, and volunteer work outside the United States. Last year 19 students received grants from DRCLAS and the Weissman International Internship Program for summer research travel or internships in Brazil. These ranged from an undergraduate in physics developing a design for energy-efficient stoves for Ecofogão in Belo Horizonte, to a sociology doctoral student researching the implementation of affirmative action policies and their impact on socioeconomic inequality in Rio de Janeiro, Brasília, Salvador, and Curitiba.

The new Lemann Program for Harvard College Students in Brazil will identify and develop opportunities for undergraduates going to Brazil as well as provide funding for students to spend a semester or summer in Brazil. Staff members of the new Brazil Office will develop on-going working relationships with non-government, cultural, public, and private sector organizations to create internships at all levels as well as contacts for fieldwork. Students will be able to enroll in a Brazilian university for a semester of courses, pursue scientific research in a laboratory, intern in a business, NGO, or government office, or engage in community service. The Brazil Office will facilitate students’ housing and provide orientation sessions, language training, field trips, and other programming to immerse students fully in Brazilian life. In addition, assistance will be provided for graduate students to arrange professional internships, summer jobs, and other innovative practical experiences such as clinical rotations for advanced medical students.

The exchanges will go both ways, as the new Brazil Office will help bring more Brazilian scholars and students to Harvard. Lemann Fellowships will be available for Brazilian doctoral students at Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences for Brazil-related dissertation research and fieldwork. Brazilians who work or aspire to work as professionals in education, government, or public health will also be given opportunities for advanced study and training at Harvard with the new Lemann Fellowships. These will be awarded to talented Brazilians entering master’s degree programs at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, Kennedy School of Government, or the Harvard School of Public Health. Like many countries—including the United States—Brazil will benefit significantly from having a larger group of highly skilled public sector professionals who have been exposed to some of the best intellectual leaders in their fields and have made personal connections with other emerging fellow leaders in their areas of interest.

With the establishment of a physical presence in São Paulo—providing services to all Harvard faculty, students, administrators, and staff interested in Brazil and bringing more of Brazil to Harvard—DRCLAS will now be at the center of Brazil’s intellectual and economic life, underpinning the flow of students and scholars between Harvard and Brazil and forging life-long connections which will undoubtedly benefit both.

To play a central role in bringing this vision into being, we are also happy to announce that Jason Dyett—a former DRCLAS Cambridge office staff member who worked closely with Director John Coatsworth for two and one half years after the founding of the Center in 1994—returned to DRCLAS, in April 2006, to assume the Brazil Office Program Director position.

Dyett moved to São Paulo in 1996, after his first stint at DRCLAS, to establish the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Brazil office. During more than five years in the country, he gained a practitioner’s knowledge of the myriad challenges faced by newly arrived researchers. He went on to acquire extensive experience in the private sector in both Brazil and the United States. He rejoins DRCLAS from the Corporate Executive Board, a Washington, D.C.-based company that provides executive education to leaders of more than 2,200 of the world’s largest public and private organizations. Dyett obtained a Master of Business Administration in Finance from the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business in 2004.

Complementing Dyett’s background in international management consulting and organization building in Brazil is his excellent knowledge of Brazilian culture and Portuguese. Never one to shun international adventures, Jason Dyett—originally from Massachusetts—participated in study abroad opportunities both in high school and in college, spending time at the Universidad de Yucatán in Mérida, Mexico, and the Universidad de Granada in Spain. Fluent also in Spanish, Dyett earned his undergraduate degree in Political Science and Spanish from the University of Vermont.

Dyett will be ably assisted in setting up and launching the new Harvard Brazil Office by Tomás Amorim, who joined DRCLAS in 2004 after five years at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, and by Lorena Barbería, Program Associate at the Center since 2000.

Tomás Amorim is DRCLAS Brazil Program Officer.

See also: Brazil