Summer Rio Program

Summer 2016

sa101Today, Rio de Janeiro is experiencing unprecedented changes. Not only is the City preparing to host the Olympics in 2016, but years of economic and political stability have helped to change public attitudes and policies toward social integration dealing with the City's traditionally most underserved communities. New public projects such as the installation of a peacekeeping police force in the hillside communities known as favelas are having a major impact on the general welfare and safety of the city, meanwhile creating new challenges and opportunities for increased integration.  But can Rio overcome a history of political corruption, large wealth distribution gaps, and a substandard educational system?

The program will explore the city’s current socio-political backdrop as the city prepares for the 2016 Summer Olympics, and explore the impact to the city's most marginalized residents- those of the favelas. Originally small, inaccessible communities of escaped and freed slaves, Rio's favelas are now home to nearly 25 percent of its population, and are considered fountains of culture in the city.  We will witness first-hand their energy, kindness, as well as challenges faced by these communities and the city as a whole.

Of course, an introduction to the social and political context of Rio would be incomplete without also introducing participants to the unique surroundings that have earned it the nickname “The Marvelous City”— a stunning geography of rugged mountains and the Atlantic’s sandy beaches. To take it all in, we will visit numerous historical, cultural, and tourist landmarks such as the Penha church (originally built by slaves in 1690s), the Christ the Redeemer Statue, Sugarloaf Mountain, and the Tijuca National Forest (the largest urban forest in the world, replanted by hand in the nineteenth century).

Program Activities

Formal lectures, guided hikes and tours, and meetings with local community leaders and academics will frame participants’ immersion into the city's history and culture including both recent strides and persistent challenges. 

Activities include:   

  • Visit to community adjacent Olympic site to learn about local effects of construction for Olympics 2016
  • Meeting with public health officials to discuss the Brazil's public health response to the AIDS epidemic
  • Visit to Cidade do Samba 
  • Percussion lesson in Santa Marta with Atitude Social
  • Tour of Pequena Africa
  • Visit to Pão de Açúcar/Christo Redentor  for bird’s eye view of Rio
  • Visit to Zona Norte and Baixada Fluminense
  • Visit to social project in Vidigal that has trained Olympic athletes  
  • Visit the Museu do Amanhã


SOC 3530: Continuity and Change in Brazilian Society

This course develops insight on how Brazil reached its current condition. It covers social, political, economic, and cultural developments. The major themes that we will focus on include: the nature and legacy of slavery in Brazil, the tensions between continuity/change and between individual/society in Brazil. As the capital of the country for most of its existence (and still the most visited), a city of tremendous contrast, Rio de Janeiro will serve as the backdrop for the course.

SOC 3535: Contemporary Social Issues in Brazil

This course introduces Brazilian contemporary social issues– citizenship, race/ethnicity, education, policing, religion, social welfare, health, and poverty will all be explored. Rio de Janeiro will serve as the setting to explore these issues.

For both courses, Rio will serve as the classroom. Wherever possible, the courses take advantage of the city through course-related excursions to sites of historical, artistic, and cultural interest. From shopping in a local grocery store to navigating the transportation system, everything students do will be part of the learning experience.

Program Details

Two weeks in Rio: June 20 – July 4 2016

Eight weeks hybrid course at Cal State East Bay, Hayward Campus

Total Courses: 2

Total Units: 8


Tuition    (2 courses)    $1500

Accommodations and Excursions         $1000 (14 nights)

Plane Ticket                   $1000

Spending Money           $550+

*costs are approximate and subject to change

Passport/Visa Information

A valid Passport is required to travel outside of the United States.

Passport cost is $165

More information on the Passport process can be found here:

Apply Now!

Applications for Cal State East Bay’s Summer Rio Program – Summer 2016 is available here.

Completed applications are due by February 15, 2016.

Apply early, spaces are very limited.

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