Blog Post

Differences in academic culture

Dear HASTAC community, 

I am a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology in Brazil and have been working as a visiting scholar at the Graduate Center – CUNY for 2+ years. In my first year in the US, I have felt some difficulties in adjusting to the dynamics of a new academic environment, which I found out to be shared by other Brazilian young scholars as well. I now attribute that to substantial differences in the academic culture and the scholarship of both countries. Besides usually experiencing language barriers, Brazilian students are also taught to write and communicate in a different style, frame their arguments in a different way, pick different scopes for their research.    

I have plans to team up with a Brazilian non-profit organization that wants to expand its reach to address issues in higher education. Our idea is to offer workshops to Brazilian students who want to come to the U.S., with the goal of presenting an understanding of the American higher education environment, guidance on developing the necessary skills to participate in such an environment, and some practical solutions to students’ common needs, concerns, and difficulties. 

I would like to know if anyone is working on similar issues and would like to exchange some ideas and/or someone could indicate resources (books, policy research, info on like-minded organizations, etc.) we could mobilize. Our program will rely upon the investigation and the assessment of the structure of the higher education system in the U.S. and the discussion of its principal characteristics. We are still in the very first phases of our endeavor, and there is no problem with broad suggestions.       

It is important to highlight that besides preventing Brazilian scholars from autonomously participating in an international scholarly arena, challenges regarding differences in academic cultures are also likely to prevent a smooth functioning of collaborative research between American and Brazilian scholars and higher-education institutions. 

I hope I can engage in fruitful discussions with the HASTAC community. I am also available to discuss my ideas further through email (   

Thank you very much for your time and consideration. 

Best regards,
Nara Roberta Silva        


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