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Moving globally to transform locally? Academic mobility and language policy in Brazil


This paper discusses academic mobility in Brazil over the past few years due to the increase in governmental initiatives to promote internationalization of higher education and student mobility. The aim is to address the challenges faced by the international academic mobility program Science without Borders (SwB) to boost the development of science, technology and innovation in the country. To live to this expectation, SwB fosters foreign language learning as a key element to the program’s success. Known as the most expensive investment ever made in the country towards funding international mobility in higher education at the undergraduate level, Brazil is aiming high in the program. Whether or not the SwB generation will fulfill the task to transform science, technology and innovation in the country in the years to come is one of the questions raised by the study. Drawing on an analyses of qualitative data with undergraduate students, participants in the SwB program from 2011 to 2014, the paper discusses three important dimensions of the international mobility: (1) the contribution at educational and professional levels; (2) the contribution at a personal and subjective level; and (3) the importance of foreign language acquisition to broader education. The results support the argument that the SwB generation has developed, as its most salient aspect, a differential self-perspective after undergoing mobility and stress the importance of a more inclusive, multilingual language policy for the country.

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  1. See more in

  2. See the charters of Bologna policy forums in

  3. Source

  4. State members are Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela.

  5. Source:

  6. Source:

  7. Multilingualism is used here as a proxy for both bilingualism and plurilingualism.

  8. In Portuguese: INDL–Inventário Nacional da Diversidade Linguística. Source: Accessed: June 2015.

  9. Federal Law No 9.394 In Portuguese: Lei de Diretrizes e Bases-LDB.

  10. Source: Brazilian Association of Franchising (ABF) in: Accessed: December 2015.

  11. The program also offers scholarships in six other categories, including: visiting doctoral studies, full Ph.D. degrees, post-doctoral training, Talented Young Scientists, Specialized Training in Industry, and Special Visiting Researcher. As the focus of this paper is on academic mobility of undergraduate students, the other categories will not be discussed.

  12. Source: Comissão de Ciência, Tecnologia, Inovação, Comunicação e Informática. Senado Federal. Relatório CCT 2015-ml-co2015-11320.,governo-suspende-abertura-de-vagas-no-ciencia-sem-fronteiras-neste-ano,1767249. Accessed: December 2015.

  13. Source: Accessed: June 2015.

  14. Source: The Economist, Accessed: June 2015.

  15. The results will not be fully presented in this paper; some of them are addressed in other publications. See, for instance, Archanjo (2015).

  16. Rede CsF aims to connect and engage participants (students) and partners of the Program (Universities, Governmental agencies, business companies, etc.) into the promotion of Science and Technology.



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Professor Jean Marc Dewaele, Birkbeck College, London, UK Professor Ofelia Garcia, City University of New York, USA.

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Correspondence to Renata Archanjo.

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Archanjo, R. Moving globally to transform locally? Academic mobility and language policy in Brazil. Lang Policy 16, 291–312 (2017).

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  • Academic mobility
  • Science without borders
  • Language policy
  • Foreign language learning