The Cost of Opportunity? Higher Education in the Baixada Fluminense (2016-2017)
Brazil faces challenges of great magnitude, and an expanded system of federal universities has embraced the obligation to address them. The future of the country depends in part on access to higher education. But do policymakers understand the obstacles that racially or socioeconomically marginalized populations face when they pursue mobility through higher education? Does greater access to education automatically contribute to diminishing inequality by enhancing opportunity?
This project team collaborated with faculty, graduate students and undergraduates at the Multidisciplinary Institute of the Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro, located in the Baixada Fluminense on the outskirts of Rio. A region of four million people, the Baixada is highly stigmatized as a site of corruption and violence.
The team conducted fieldwork over the summer and brought 17 of the Brazilian collaborators to Duke in the spring for a nine-day exchange and day-long conference. Team members produced a documentary video drawing on 50 interviews with students and their families, which is being used in Brazil to encourage local high school students to apply to the university.
The team’s findings suggest that policymakers do not sufficiently understand the obstacles, both financial and psychological, that racially or socioeconomically marginalized populations face when they pursue mobility through higher education. One must challenge the generally accepted belief that greater access to higher education automatically contributes to diminishing inequality by enhancing opportunity, as well as the idea that a college degree leads to significant improvements in wealth and labor outcomes.
The team’s website was honored as the best in the Education & Human Development theme of Bass Connections. Stephanie Reist won the Bass Connections Award for Outstanding Mentorship. Adair Necalli won the Bass Connections Photo Contest.
Summer 2016 – Spring 2017
The Cost of Opportunity: Higher Education & Social Mobility in Rio de Janeiro’s Baixada Fluminense (Part 1) (G. Kidd, A. Necalli, C. Ricks, J.V. Alencar, R. Allen, J. Lee, T. Brown)
The Cost of Opportunity: Higher Education & Social Mobility in Rio de Janeiro’s Baixada Fluminense (Part 2) (G. Kidd, A. Necalli, C. Ricks, J.V. Alencar, R. Allen, J. Lee, T. Brown)
The Cost of Opportunity? Higher Education in the Baixada Fluminense (presentation by Adair Necalli and Chloe Ricks, EHDx Talks, April 19, 2017)
The Cost of Opportunity Conference (Franklin Humanities Institute, March 27, 2017)
Duke Global Brazil Conference (Franklin Humanities Institute, February 17, 2017)
Challenges for Marginalized Students in Higher Education in South Africa, the U.S. and Beyond (workshop by Duke alumna Amelia Herbert, November 11, 2016)
Project website (best website at EHDx, Education & Human Development theme)
This Team in the News
This project team was originally part of the Education & Human Development theme of Bass Connections, which ended in 2022. See related team, The Cost of Opportunity? Higher Education in the Baixada Fluminense (2017-2018). This project was cosponsored by the Global Brazil Humanities Lab and the Duke Brazil Initiative.
- Antonio Arce, Arts & Sciences
- Marcos De Almeida Rangel, Sanford School of Public Policy
- John French, Arts & Sciences-History
- Katya Wesolowski, Arts & Sciences-Cultural Anthropology
/graduate Team Members
Gray Kidd, History-PHD
Travis Knoll, History-PHD
Leighanne Oh, Biomedical Engineering-MS
Stephanie Reist, Romance Studies-AM
/undergraduate Team Members
John Victor Alencar, Economics (BS)
Riley Allen, Cultural Anthropology (AB)
Timothy Brown, Political Science (AB)
Zhongyu Huang, Sociology (AB)
Michael Ivory, Political Science (AB)
Eyram Klu, Int Comparative Studies (AB)
Jessica Lee, Classical Civilization (AB)
Adair Necalli, Linguistics (AB)
Chloe Ricks, Int Comparative Studies (AB)
/zcommunity Team Members
Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro
Mitchell Ryan, UNC-Chapel Hill (Undergraduate Student)
Dudu de Morro Agudo, Enraizados