Reflection by BRICLab Visiting Scholar Beatriz Bulla

By Beatriz Bulla, BRICLab 2018 Visiting Scholar

To be asked by the Center on Global Economic Governance (CGEG) to write about my time in Columbia brings up two inescapable reactions: a nostalgic feeling of being close to the end, but with it the joy of remembering months of thrilling study and research. The opportunity to join the CGEG BRICLab as a visiting scholar during the spring term of 2018 allowed me to benefit from the School of International and Public Affairs and to conduct studies that I organized under three thematic pillars.

First, what are the current relevant discussions and where my country stands amongst them? 

Second, how to support the press and use my work as a journalist to serve democratic ideals?

Lastly, how are the justice system and anti-corruption policies – themes that have dominated headlines in Brazil and the focus of much of my coverage as a reporter - treated abroad?

My efforts were set by these guidelines as a way to enhance my professional skills and become an even more committed journalist in times of political change in Brazil and challenges for the press.

The course "The New (and Old) Foreign Policy Challenges in the Americas," taught by Professor Christopher Sabatini, and the "Green Transition in Emerging Markets," taught by Professor Christian Deseglise, were crucial for my first purpose. In the former, I could explore relations between Latin American countries and their positions toward the United States. The latter offered an overview of the growth environment in emerging markets and the push towards sustainable development.

To my second line of study, I had the opportunity to enroll in the terrific course "Global Media: Innovation and Economic Development" taught by Professor Anya Schiffrin. In it, we discussed how to engage and lead innovation processes within the media to ensure the survival of good quality journalism. To be with students and guest speakers from around the globe sharing insights, dilemmas, and outcomes from newsrooms was a valuable opportunity. I've focused part of my research efforts on writing about how Brazil's 2018 presidential elections may test journalism in the face of fake news stories and potential election-meddling. 

The third basis of my study is related to what I've been covering during the last four years as a reporter for O Estado de S. Paulo. In the "Local & Global Corruption: Maneuvering Toward Good Governance," taught by Professor Paul Lagunes, we discussed solutions to promote good governance in administrations. I'm glad I was able to do a presentation and share with the class a bit about the Brazilian Car Wash Operation. It is undeniable that the US procedures inspired the Car Wash investigations in part and I was curious to dedicate part of my time to research this influence, which led me to sit on the seminar "International Criminal Investigations," by Professor Frederick Davis, at Columbia Law School.

Furthermore, it would be unfair not to mention all the parallel events that take place within Columbia which make this university a unique venue and creative environment to connect with the policymakers and leading thinkers in a range of fields. And this is how, during the last semester, I came across talks with people such as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Patti Smith. Likewise, I also learned about efforts surrounding open governance, regulation of cryptocurrencies, storytelling using podcasts, the role of satire in the political journalism, access to justice in India, the peace process in Colombia, the insertion of women in the US elections, the MeToo movement, African investigative journalism, and so much more that is not possible to fully enumerate.

It is impossible to leave Columbia without being grateful for this stunning experience that initiated after being chosen for the scholarship "Jornalista de Visão" (in English, Visionary Journalist), sponsored by Instituto Ling, and become possible through the BRICLab at the Center on Global Economic Governance.


Beatriz Bulla is a journalist and reporter for O Estado de S. Paulo. She joined the newspaper in 2012, after being chosen from the best professionals to have participated in the paper's training program. Since then, she has covered economics, politics, and justice for the paper. In 2014, Beatriz moved to Brasilia, the national capital, to assume the news coverage of the Supreme Court for O Estado de S. Paulo.