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  • Locations: Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
  • Program Terms: Spring- Embedded
  • Restrictions: PSU applicants only
Program Description:

Program Overview     

Fast urbanization is placing enormous pressure on cities globally to respond to formal and political complications related to rapid transformation of social, ecological, and infrastructural conditions. This is especially visible in Southern Hemisphere cities, where the formal sectors are unable to provide adequate housing stock to populations with limited access to capital, forcing them to invent self-help processes giving rise to informal settlements.
This advanced studio will explore such impacts on informal settlements located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in an attempt to negotiate complex problems of urbanization using computational design approaches. While computation is understood broadly as a procedural paradigm independent of different technical substrates (e.g. computers), is also curated through lenses of politics and society. The studio will give students an opportunity to apply computational thinking to a contemporary global problem using cutting-edge computational technology, including advanced geometric modeling, virtual reality, digital prototyping, remote collaboration, and algorithmic design. In addition, the studio will reflect on what might be perceived as technological colonialism.
We will consider these problems using computational strategies examining a site adjacent to Santa Marta, an informal settlement located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Using this site, we will attempt to integrate it with the rest of the existing informal settlement by reinforcing structural stability, strengthening social activity, articulating public opportunities, and developing the landscape as ecological infrastructure through the use of a computational design approach. Our goal will be to speculate how a site might be articulated to provide the greatest amount of access to marginalized groups with the least of amount of oversight or control- while addressing issues of technological privilege. This will require that we think forward while working backwards by using the digital tools we have at hand to propose scenarios to peoples with considerably less access to these tools.
This studio will evolve in parallel with studios at universities in Rio and interactions are planned to occur with these remote studios at specific time during the semester.

Program Quicklinks     

Housing and Meals
Program Costs
Financial Aid & Scholarships
More Information
How to Apply
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Any pre-requisite courses are established by the faculty leader or department hosting the course.  The following have been listed as pre-requisites for consideration to enroll in this course and travel on the embedded education abroad program:
  • No pre-requisites.
  • This course is open to Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Architecture Engineering majors of all campuses.
  • Admission in the course and permission to travel with the group are at the discretion of the faculty leader and/or academic department hosting the course.  Academic standing and disciplinary or conduct issues may impact eligibility.

Housing and Meals

During the embedded travel component, housing will consist of: information regarding housing is not available at this time.

Program Costs

Students pay regular Penn State tuition (either in-state or out-of-state) for the credits associated with the embedded course.  Travel costs, lodging, meals, excursions, and other fees are determined by the program budget which is set by the program leader.  Please consult the program leader for additional information.

Financial Aid & Scholarships

Global Programs administers a scholarship that is specifically designated to support students studying abroad on embedded courses.  The scholarship is competitive, and the deadlines to apply are strictly enforced.  Please review the Embedded Programs Scholarship eligibility, deadlines, and application process.

For More Information

For more information about this course, please contact the program leader: Jose Duarte by emailing

How to Apply

 The process for enrolling in an embedded course varies according to the instructor and/or department.  The program leader has indicated that in order to enroll in the course and travel component, students must contact program leader.

Studying Abroad with a Disability

Many students with disabilities successfully study abroad each year. Please note that other cultures may have different attitudes and available accommodations regarding disabilities. While we cannot guarantee the accessibility of all program sites and locations, specific accommodations may be arranged in consultation with our office, the Student Disability Resources office, and our partners abroad. To prepare for success, students are strongly encouraged to research the country and program location to consider if and how they will manage their disabilities abroad in advance of selecting a program. Students with disabilities and other diverse backgrounds can begin their research on our Diversity Awareness Abroad page.




Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Spring- Embedded 2018 08/22/2017
Rolling Admission 04/21/2018 04/28/2018
NOTE: “The application deadline date is NOT as it appears above. Please contact the program coordinator, Debora Verniz by emailing if you are interested in applying for this embedded program.

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Students will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision materials prior to the term's application deadline.

Indicates that deadline has passed