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Tulane Law, International Development Joint Degree Candidate Receives Prestigious Brazil Initiation Scholarship, Explores Studies Abroad

March 23, 2011

Adam Smith, who currently is pursuing a joint JD/MS degree in Law and International Relations from Tulane Law School’s Payson Center for International Development, is a recipient of the prestigious and highly competitive Brazil Initiation Scholarship (BIS) 2011, awarded annually by the Brazil-America Studies Association (BRASA). A key component of BRASA’s agenda to expand Brazilian Studies in the United States, the award affords recipients an opportunity to do exploratory research or language study in Brazil through a one-time $1,500 travel scholarship.


Smith used his BIS to defray costs of study at the Pontificia Universidade Catolica in Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio) and living expenses associated with an internship at the Nucleo de Inclusão Social (NIS) at the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro. Focusing his research on the legalization of the favelas and growth of formal employment as indicators of broader social inclusion, the second-year law student says the award has allowed him to gain a better understanding of the country.


“My study has greatly improved my language skills,” Smith said, referencing the intensive Portuguese studies he undertook at PUC-Rio beginning in January 2011. “I think my work in Brazil also has given me a more nuanced background and deeper appreciation for the material [I researched].” Smith’s work with the NIS ran from January 4 through February 22.


Currently, Smith is enrolled at the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina through an exchange program at Tulane Law School. The relationship between the two institutions was one of several deciding factors for Smith in choosing a graduate school—a step he took after receiving his bachelor’s degree in American Studies in 2003 from Northwestern University. With plans to investigate issues of human immigration and labor rights—two issues that became important to him during the years following his undergraduate studies—the joint degree program between Tulane Law School and the Payson Center ultimately sold him. As Smith rationalized, the study of law would provide a methodological framework to examine development issues, and the study of development would give him a sense of the real-world consequences of legal issues.


“I think that the process of globalization that brings the industrialized north into greater contact with the developing south raises questions of social justice that are fundamental for my generation,” explained the 2012 joint degree candidate. “A JD will help me consider how the United States treats individuals seeking access to American institutions in the realms of education, immigration, and labor law. I think that a MS in International Development will help me consider how our country can work to promote these same issues across our borders in other countries.” 

Smith will return to the U.S. in August 2011 for the start of his final year. Upon receiving his joint degree, he hopes to work abroad in some capacity on questions of human rights, immigration, and labor law in Latin America. A familiarity with the region, Smith believes, should make him a more attractive candidate for employers operating throughout Latin America.


Payson Center for International Development

Unique among American law schools, Tulane Law School’s Payson Center for International Development joins scholars from law, public health, social work, and a range of other disciplines in promoting sustainable human development through teaching, policy analysis, and field research throughout the world. The Law School’s joint JD/MS in International Development programs allows students—particularly those with interests in international legal issues and/or international development policy—to maximize their educational and career opportunities by concurrently earning a Juris Doctor degree and a Masters of Science in International Development.


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