If you’d like to tag along with my POL 102 class this semester, here’s your chance. Once a week I assign a web based assignment to go along with the topic of our chapter textbook (we’re using The Good Society: An Introduction to Comparative Politics).
This week, we read about the relationship between the state and society. So Wednesday we’re going to discuss a provocative PBS documentary about affirmative action in Brazil: "Brazil in Black and White" (PBS Wide Angle).
In addition to the question of affirmative action and state policies aimed at reducing social inequalities, the video often also leads to discussions of the differences in university admittance processes in the US and elsewhere. The Brazilian model of a single entrance exam (the “vestibular” in Brazil), based on standardized scores (no letters of recommendation, no extra-curricular activities, no sports scholarships, etc.), all determined based on specific slots allotted to majors (no liberal arts curriculum or “gen ed” courses) is actually the global standard. But what most shocks students is how little it costs to attend a public university overseas. The cost of tuition at a premier public university in Brazil? 45 reals ($26.18).