“The University of Illinois has over a century of engagement in Brazil. Eugene Davenport, for whom Davenport Hall is named, was the first dean of the College of Agriculture at Illinois. As a young man he spent 1890-91 in São Paulo, Brazil, where he advised the coffee planter Luiz de Queiroz on establishing Brazil’s first school of agriculture, currently known as ESALQ (Escola Superior de Agricultura Luiz de Queiroz), part of the University of São Paulo…”  

-Joseph Love, Emeritus Professor of History 

The Lemann Center for Brazilian Studies, established in 2009, promotes teaching and research about Brazil by faculty and students at Illinois and their Brazilian counterparts. The Center fosters knowledge and understanding of Brazil across disciplines and colleges by offering fellowships to UIUC and Brazilian students at graduate and undergraduate levels; funding faculty research; organizing international conferences on Brazilian topics; and supporting cultural activities of all sorts. 

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign boasts a rich legacy of involvement in Brazil. The Lemann Center for Brazilian Studies has been a beacon for promoting teaching and research on Brazil. By facilitating collaborations between faculty and students at Illinois and their counterparts in Brazil, the center harnesses the wealth of resources available at Illinois. The Lemann Center cultivates interdisciplinary understanding and appreciation of Brazil through fellowships, faculty research funding, international conferences, and diverse cultural initiatives.

The Lemann Center for Brazilian Studies (originally known as the Lemann Institute) was created from a generous gift given by Jorge Paulo Lemann and the Lemann family. Our first founding director was History professor Joseph Love, who, along with Economics professor Werner Baer, championed the development of Brazilian Studies at the University of Illinois. Over the years, the center has welcomed countless students and professors into its programs and has created a large network of  successful former students. Our alumni include the former President of the Central Bank in Brazil, Alexandre Antônio Tombini and the former President of the Bank of the Northeast, Marcos Holanda. The center also features rich and diverse programming and events. Professor Love was succeeded as director by Professor Mary Arends-Kuenning and Professor Jerry Dávila, both of whom ushered the center through important milestones, including serving as the headquarters for the Brazilian Studies Association (BRASA), conducting a rigorous self study, holding the first Lemann Graduate Student Forum, and, in 2019, celebrating the 10-year anniversary, during which  the Lemann Institute became the Lemann Center. The center has since expanded its campus impact and outreach throughout and received permanent status from the University Senate and Illinois Board of Higher Education in 2019. 

Our current director, John Tofik Karam, together with longtime Senior Program Coordinator, Elis Artz, helped keep the center steady throughout  the Covid-19 pandemic, continuing to  support staff, faculty, and students: ‘tamo junto’! 

Since the pandemic, the center has continued to grow in exciting ways. Prof. Karam is on sabbatical in Lebanon during the 2023-2024 academic year to conduct research on Brazilian agricultural and cultural exports across the Arab world. Acting Director, Flávia Andrade and Acting Associate Director, Marc Hertzman lead the center while he is away, looking forward to extending another year of great work, progress, and development.