A legendary member is Steven Helfand’s newest title, a professor of Economics at UC Riverside.
Helfand was selected as a legendary member—membro legendário in Portuguese—or fellow of the Brazilian Society of Rural Economics, Administration and Sociology. Also known as SOBER, the organization supports the development and implementation of public policies for the agricultural sector and rural areas in Brazil.
“I feel incredibly humbled to receive this recognition,” Helfand said. “Many of the previous Fellows are people who I look up to and who have mentored me over the years. It is an incredible honor to join a group of select few with them.”
A member of the organization since 1999, Helfand’s new honorary title represents the society's highest distinction. In June, he was selected as a fellow and in August, Helfand traveled to Natal, Brazil, to attend the ceremony to accept the award.
Helfand has spent his summers teaching and collaborating with Brazilian researchers in areas of agriculture, economics, and poverty as a member of SOBER while teaching at UCR.
At the ceremony, Helfand said, “‘As a gringo, it would have been impossible to dedicate my professional career to the study of agriculture and poverty in Brazil without the guidance, advice, and support of many individuals and institutions in Brazil.’”
Since 1995, Helfand has been teaching at UCR in the department of Economics. As Professor and Chair of the Department, he has created and taught courses that combine economics and his specialization in issues related to Latin America and poverty.
“I love teaching, and challenging students to think critically and broadly about the world that we live in,” he said. “It has been very rewarding.”
“Professor Steven Helfand is an exemplary academic and professional, and an open-minded and caring human being,” said Pery Francisco Assis Shikida, president of SOBER and professor at Western Parana State University in Brazil. “SOBER has had the honor of having him as a member during the past 23 years.”
As a fellow, Helfand will contribute to the selection of future fellows at the organization.
“In the future I look forward to continuing this work, and to strengthening the bridges that I have been building between the U.S. and Latin America,” Helfand said.