Centre for Social Studies (CES-PT)

Centre for Social Studies (CES-PT)

The Centre for Social Studies (CES) of the University of Coimbra is an Associate Laboratory of the Ministry of Education and Science (MEC) since 2002. CES is a scientific institution dedicated to interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research whose main mission is the research within the social sciences and humanities as well as within other scientific fields whenever relevant.

Its mission additionally involves developing training in advanced studies, namely the doctoral and post-doctoral programmes, the participation in national and foreign interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research networks, the development of on-going training activities in professional and academic fields, the promotion and dissemination of scientific culture and the organisation of cultural activities. Headed since its foundation (1978) by Professor Boaventura de Sousa Santos, CES had, during 2014, 128 researchers, 101 post-doctoral researchers, 387 PhD students, 39 junior researchers and 25 administrative staff.

Many of the researchers work on a full time basis at the Centre, combining research with lecturing (the vast majority at the Faculty of Economics, the Faculty of Humanities and the Faculty of Science and Technology) or with other professional activities. The team of CES researchers includes sociologists, economists, lawyers, anthropologists, historians, psychologists, experts in the fields of education, literature, culture and international relations, geologists, architects, engineers, and biologists. Besides the activities at CES, some of these researchers are involved in postgraduate training in social economy and social entrepreneurship and innovation at the Faculty of Economics. CES activities are based on the following methodological and strategic guidelines, which frame all research activities, advanced training, publications and outreach activities that define the priorities set up:

Methodological Guidelines:

  • To promote interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research, combining contributions from various areas and traditions;
  • To develop new and innovative instruments and analytical, theoretical and methodological approaches capable of understanding the specificities and complexities of contemporary society;
  • To disseminate scientific knowledge, making it available to multiple fields of application, through joint initiatives with civil society organizations, state institutions and international agencies, as well as local government bodies, at the regional and national level, within the Portuguese context.

Strategic Guidelines

  • To promote innovative epistemologies and methodologies and to stimulate the cultural interaction of ideas as an exercise towards an “ecology of knowledge”;
  • To produce innovative knowledge on Portugal and other European societies and on the Portuguese-speaking countries, with a strong orientation towards the enhancement of North-South dialogues;
  • To support the development of strong human rights concepts, able to denounce different kinds of inequalities and discriminations and to strengthen democracy;
  • To provide support to the elaboration of public policies through the development of applied research;
  • To strengthen the participation in national and international networks, paying special attention to North-South and European cooperation and to the relationship with Portuguese-speaking countries;
  • To foster post-graduate studies and advanced training activities open to young researchers, professionals and citizens in general, as a way of contributing to the improvement of societal skills.

These orientations are pursued in the following five research groups and six observatories.

Research Groups:

  • Cities, Cultures, and Architecture (CCArq)
  • Science, Economy and Society (NECES)
  • Democracy, Citizenship and Law (DECIDe)
  • Humanities, Migration and Peace Studies (NHUMEP)
  • Social Policies, Labour and Inequalities (POSTRADE)

The POSTRADE research group further includes the Study Group on Solidarity Economy of the Centre for Social Studies – ECOSOL/CES.


  • Observatory on Crisis and Alternatives (CRISALT)
  • Permanent Observatory for Portuguese Justice (OPJ)
  • Observatory on Participation, Innovation and Local Government (PEOPLES)
  • Observatory on Religion in Public Space (POLICREDOS)
  • Observatory of Risk (OSIRIS)
  • Observatory for Education Policies and Professional Development (OP.EDU)

Associated individual members

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