Country Context

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is one of the most complex places in the world for the study of human rights, and although rights violations occur on a daily basis, there is an extensive NGO community addressing a wide range of these violations. Historically, our liaison has been Viva Rio, the largest NGO in Brazil providing direct service in favela communities in Rio on security, peace, small arms disarmament, and health campaigns.

Possible Project Work

The Brazil IFP is for the most part built on group media projects but we always try to match a student’s interest in themes and any particular local NGO. For example, each year there are always a couple of students who choose to spend their IFP interning with a local NGO as opposed to working on group media projects. But most students in the Rio program will work on media projects in groups with their peers. This also includes Brazilians as we also recruit students from the Human Rights Center at Catholic University in Rio to join our teams.

Praia de Copacabana no Rio de Janeiro, Brasil (Copacabana Beach at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

Who Should Apply

In the past, the Brazil IFP has been a mix of GPIA students, Media Studies Students, Parsons Design Students, and even a couple of qualified undergraduates.

But in general, the program should attract any student interested in Human Rights and Media, Documentary Filmmaking, Transmedia and Webdoc Production, Participatory Media (especially Youth Media), Photography, critical blogging, front-line NGO work in Brazil, and Brazilian studies.

Concentrations, Themes, and Research Possibilities

Students can take the Rio IFP from several GPIA concentrations, including Media, Human Rights, and Security and Development. Students also come to this IFP from several programs within the New School, such as Media Studies, and Parsons.

Research possibilities are dependent on the interests that students bring to the IFP and the critical issues that are playing out in Rio during our time there. But we encourage students to bring specific research agendas to the IFP.

Types of Projects in Riorio_de_janeiro_copacabana_beach_2010

Each year the Rio course is slightly different because our NGO partners change and because our students bring new and unique skills and interests. For example, in 2015 the Rio IFP included a few students who worked by themselves inside NGOs doing research, writing reports, and doing website development. Another team worked on a web documentary on eco-tourism in Ilha Grande, while some students studied and filmed the impact of the police pacification process in the Favelas. Finally, the entire team was working on a feature-length documentary called The Rules. In this project, we fanned out all over the city and asked people a conceptual question: If you could break the rules, what would you do?  This is now a feature-length film being submitted to film festivals.

Students also did their own media projects, portfolios, personal films, blogs, radio pieces.

Major projects that involve small teams have included:

  • Youth media production in favela communities.
  • Website development for partner NGOs.
  • Advocacy video production for host NGOs.
  • Research and report writing for NGOs, including website content development.
  • Short (and feature) documentary film production.
  • Webdoc production and possible virtual reality production this year.
  • Visual journalist blogs, including work with citizen journalism platforms.
  • Sound walks, sound mapping, community radio, long-form radio research for programs.
  • Media packaging and human rights educational portals.


The Rio IFP is always looking for students with production and postproduction skills. But we also choose many students who are exploring these areas for the first time in order to acquire the skills of documentary practice and media advocacy. Past student projects have become websites and have been exhibited in film festivals.

Skills learned in the Rio IFP:

  • Students learn how media and human rights work together in real concrete situations.
  • Many students come to the Rio IFP with production skills and the program allows them to create new pieces in the field.
  • Others are opening this door for the first time and the IFP provides a space for learning production and post-production in the field and in peer group settings.
  • Students learn how to make advocacy videos, blogs, and portfolios, web docs, they learn how to develop project websites, package media for change and audience engagement, and how to facilitate participatory media projects.
  • Students also learn Portuguese, experience Rio from a unique perspective, engage in Brazilian studies, and conduct research for thesis projects.
  • Many projects in the Rio program become PIAs in student’s final year, many thesis projects have come from the program, and students also begin to build a media portfolio from their work in Rio.

Language and Course Requirements

Taking intensive Portuguese is a requirement. Portuguese classes are offered for free for students in the Brazil IFP. Students can also take their own additional classes and tutoring sessions outside of this New School arrangement. Many students also travel to Rio two weeks early for intensive classes before the program begins on June 4st.

Students should take at least one class with Peter Lucas, in the fall (Human Rights & Media or Global Youth Media) or in the spring (The Poetics of Witnessing).

There is also a mandatory weekly IFP Lab on Wednesday evenings.

ro-de-janeiro-1680x1050-world-wallpaperStudents’ Living Situations

Students find furnished apartments in Rio or Airbnb flats. Some students like to stay alone, while others share apartments.  Every kind of furnished apartment is available in Rio including large 4 bedroom flats. Students who have relatives or friends in Rio are allowed to stay with them if they want.

Program Information

Coordinator: Peter Lucas: