Making Places Shaping Destinations in Brazil:
A collaborative framework for innovative education

Over the years, I have been organizing international field work programs in Brazil, partnering with many organizations. In these field work programs, students, faculty and community together create a learning community within the living communities of Brazil. Students can learn from first-hand cultural diversity, transforming academic learning into practical action.

As a consequence, besides educating youngsters to work with real context and complex matters, we can also support promoting more impact in Brazilian organizations and communities.

The specific course: MakingPlaces Shaping Destinations is a special one. This is an interdisciplinary Minor offered at Breda University of Applied Sciences.

In this course, we embrace an approach to knowledge and learning that is relational, applied and collaborative. Students, after finishing their module in The Netherlands, they fly to Brazil for two weeks and join projects that are co-created with the local organizations and communities. By coming together and co-creating a plan together in Brazil we expand learning beyond a classroom and theoretical models and we generate new ideas, services and products together.

This is the Design Methodology of PlaceMaking Shaping Destination

Over the years we have co-created some challenges/assignments with the local partners in Brasil, always engaging in a plurality of knowledge by engaging teachers, students, organizations and communities to work together

In 2017 we partnered with Unirio University and with the grassroots movement: Sustainable Movement of Silva Jardim in the State of Rio de Janeiro. The general goal was to work with sustainable entrepreneurship. Specifically, we wanted to design experiences tourism in the area of Silva Jardim  in order to strengthen the identity of the place, giving visibility to tourism potentials. Among the ideas was the development of gastronomy tourism, creating a “Geographic Indication” for Silva Jardim – financial solutions investments/ exporting/ new technologies; productive forest identity. Another idea was the creation of a collaborative economy in the region, interconnecting the different farms and NGOs to collaborate in a new sustainable business model.



The field wor k of 2018 was a continuation on the assignment of 2017: Sustainable entrepreneurship. We worked on the website in gastronomy –created by the previous field trip and in partnership with the NGO Mico-leão dourado (Golden Lion Tamarin) we created a concept for the “sustainable corridor” – the eco-bridge over the highway – besides protecting the monkeys,  it will be transformed into a physical metaphor of what Silva Jardim movement represents, very visible on the highway. Furthermore, it was expanded to the state of Sao Paulo. In collaboration with UFSCAr and Flona Ipanema, we developed the General question: How to facilitate the sustainable development of Flona Ipanema in connection with São Paulo City? Preservation of Culture & Heritage was the focus: In what way could municipality and the community contribute in stimulation and facilitating culture activities that empower the citizens and attract visitors to come from the big city of Sao Paulo to Flona Ipanema in the interior?





In 2019 we had more than 40 students from Europe joining the field work in Brazil. We divide them into two groups. One stayed in Sao Paulo and the other in Rio de Janeiro. The challenge with our long-term partner Sustainable movement of Silva Jardim, Rio de Janeiro was: How to frame and shape the organic production of Silva Jardim into a branding adding value to the rural tourism? How to create a circuit of Agroforest experience (adding gastronomy, culture, all linked with the idea of small producers and actors in the Atlantic forest)? Furthermore, How to frame and shape a bike circuit in the region of Silva Jardim to be coordinated by the local young citizens? We also worked with a new partner in Rio de Janeiro: The community of Tubiacanga, in partnership with the University Veiga de Almeida and the professor Lourdes Domingos. The challenge for Tubiacanga was: Promote the  sustainable development of Tubiacanga by engaging the locals and promoting their protagonism in social inclusion and community well-being. The goal of the field work was to act in the Ecosystem development of Tubiacanga community through lifting up their social, historical e cultural identity to promote protagonist in overcome economic, social and environmental problems..  The question was: How to build up a network and partnerships to improve the neighborhood? How to engage young people to develop their entrepreneurship spirit? How to develop income generation strategies for the community, focusing on social and environmental impact businesses?


In the state of Sao Paulo we worked with Quilombaque Cultural Community (NGO); Parelheiros (NGO) & University of São Paulo. The challenge for Quilombaque and Parelheiros was framed into a question: How to strengthen the activities offered by both communities, providing an experience that are in aligned with their identity and the purpose of the territory in order to attract and engage the visitors? How to send a strong message outside of the territory in order to give more visibility to their movement and their purpose?

As a result of this collaboration we have many publications and theses featuring our work together.
Have a look at some:

PAPER on Making Places and Shaping Destinations in Brazil: Collaboration between universities, NGO’s and communities.

PAPER on  Placemaking, Social Construction, and the Global South.

THESIS on Attracting more Germans to Brazil:  a value-based marketing strategy (graduation research from a student @ International Leisure Management, Breda University of Applied Sciences)

THESIS on Empowerment by means of community based tourism. The case of Tubiacanga, Rio de Janeiro (graduation research- student @ International Tourism Management, Breda University of Applied Sciences)

THESIS on Project Laranjeiras: developing sustainability in this neighboorhood of Rio de Janeiro (graduation research- student @ International Leisure Management, Breda University of Applied Sciences)

CONFERENCE presentation at the  International Seminar on Environmental Sciences. Organized by the master’s in environmental sciences from University Veiga de Almeida. Topic presented: Collaborative work in the construction of sustainability in destinations: Turismo de Resistencia. (in collaboration with Comunidade Cultural Quilombaque)

CONFERENCE presentation at the 15th World leisure congress. Leisure Beyond constraints promoted by the World Leisure Organization. São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil. Topic presented: Beyond Leisure: Educating for a broader perspective ( in collaboration with the university UNIRIO.)

Brazilian Week and Brazilian Bites - Activities from The Netherlands

To also promote the Brazilian culture, projects and initiatives, every year we organize activities under the name of Brazilian Week or Brazilian Bites, promoting visibility as well as a reciprocal collaboration with our Brazilian partners. Every year, from 2016 to 2018,  we organized an event called  “Brazilian week”, where institutes related to Brazil presented their work to students, teachers and anyone interested in the culture and business of Brazil. Among the presenters we had: Brazilian Embassy in The Netherlands; professors coming from Brazil and organizations such as Museum of Tomorrow International (connected to the Museu do Amanhã from Rio de Janeiro). In 2019 we changed the concept of a Brazilian week for a “Brazilian bites” in which once a month we could have a Brazilian project presented.

Furthermore, each year we received a professor from Brazil to work with us. In 2020 we had Maria de Lurdes Costa Domingos, professor from the University Veiga de Almeida visiting us. Lourdes is also a host at our Field trips in Brazil and spending two weeks with us at the university gave the opportunity to exchange in academic culture and also prepare together for the assignments we give to students. In 2019 professor Thiago Allis from the University of Sao Paulo (USP), also a host and local coordinator of our field trips in Sao Paulo, spent one week teaching and exchanging with our students. We also received in 2019 the grassroots movement of Silva Jardim. We had 15 farmers from the projects we work in Brazil visiting our university. They shared their knowledge with our students and other teachers. In 2018 Ines Almeida, a Brazilian PhD student spend one week teaching at Placemaking Shaping Destination.

Check it out the videos

2019 PlaceMaking minor Parelheiros, Sao Paulo project

2019 PlaceMaking minor Parelheiros, São Paulo Project

2019 PlaceMaking minor Quilombaque, São Paulo Project

2018 Innovation Games project, Silva Jardim, Rio de Janeiro.

Check it out the pictures