Masters Programme Brazil

In 2013, the SLE extended its university partnership to include a new partner in addition to the Eduardo Mondlane University (UEM) in Mozambique: the Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRRJ) in Brazil. The central focus of this partnership is the transfer of the SLE's expertise in practice-oriented research, an important part of the curriculum in the SLE's graduate study programme.

The specialised Masters degree in 'Prácticas em Desenvolvimento Sustentável (Methods in Sustainable Development) at the UFRRJ aims to train new specialists in sustainable development. The UFRRJ is a member of the innovative and international Global Masters in Development Practice Network, which now has 22 member universities worldwide. The masters programme gives students the skills and knowledge they need in order to manage and direct global sustainable development processes.

The SLE provides the principal education consultancy services in Brazil, by training the programme's teachers and supervising the introduction of a course in practice-oriented research and other special courses in communication and teamwork. All courses are taught in Portuguese.

In 2013, the first student collaboration of the partnership took place, involving students in the SLE's graduate programme and students from Rio de Janeiro. Masters students in Rio supported the SLE overseas project team in the fieldwork phase of their study on 'Social perception of risks and adaptations to climate change in the Mata Atlântica'. Likewise, a Brazilian team leader collaborated in supervising the project.

Since September 2014, the UFRRJ has taught the SLE course 'Action and Decision-oriented Investigation', with part of the teaching provided by teachers from the partner university in Maputo, where the course has already been taught since 2008. The reinforcement and expansion of this south-south collaboration is another important aspect of the partnership, as well as training teachers in Action and Decision-oriented Investigation.

Course content:

The degree programme lasts two years and involves compulsory attendance. Over the four semesters of the programme, students learn the theoretical foundations of sustainable development, through particular topics such as poverty reduction and governance. After completing an in-depth methods course, the students begin a practice-oriented research project. The programme ends with an additional research project.

The individual core courses in each semester are:

Semester 1

  • Development Studies and Development Policy
  • Introduction to Environmental Studies
  • Approaches to Practical Sustainable Development
  • Tutorial: Strategies and Tools for Sustainable Development I

Semester 2

  • Governance, Poverty and Sustainable Development
  • Human Populations, Development and Health
  • Methods in Practice-oriented Research
  • Practice of Sustainable Development I - Fieldwork Phase I
  • Tutorial: Strategies and Tools for Sustainable Development II

Semester 3

  • Practice of Sustainable Development II - Fieldwork Phase II

Semester 4

  • Final project

Over these two years, students must complete additional specialisation courses. The programme for these courses varies from year to year. The aim of these courses is to provide the students with additional specialist knowledge in other disciplines.

The students can choose from a selection of three research areas, which are an important determining factor for the fieldwork phase:

1. Environment, Development and Health

2. Politics, Governance and Socioecological Conflict

3. Environment, Sustainability and Biodiversity Conservation

The UFRRJ also offers a PhD programme in sociology with a focus on development, agriculture and society.

The SLE's advisory role is focused on the topics of strategies and tools for sustainable development and the practice of sustainable development, and it is in these courses that Action and Decision-oriented Investigation and its methods are taught.

Project coordination: Dr. Karin Fiege
Scientific Staff: Anja Schelchen