FCT

R&D Institutions

Resultado da avaliação 2007 na área de Estudos Literários

Unidade de I&D

Centro de Estudos Clássicos e Humanísticos [LIT-Centro-Coimbra-196] visitada em 12/02/2008

Classificação: Excellent

Comentários do painel de avaliação
Sobre a unidade
1. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

The Centre was founded in 1967 and the two founders continue to participate informally in some of the Centre’s activities as senior advisors. From the beginning the Centre has focused both on classical languages and literatures and on broader cultural issues as well as on the continuous impact of classical culture upon particular epochs in European cultural history such as the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, but also, and with growing emphasis, it considers the role of classical culture in the modern world. The unit as a whole has received important funding from the FCT. Details are described in the report submitted to the FCT which constitutes the background material for the panel. The development is characterized by a continuous, self-reflexive and productive adjustment of organization of goals and possibilities in the light of the changing emphases within Classical Studies and related research domains.


2. DECLARED OBJECTIVES

The declared objectives of the Centre are to organize its activities around extended consideration of a series of interlocking themes. For example, since 2003 and under the umbrella title of “Roots of identity”, one of the main themes has been “The Idea of Europe”, placing particular emphasis upon the relation between polis and cosmopolis, and embracing topics such as regional/global identity, spaces of memory, mobility, inclusion/exclusion and urban structure. These topics are realized in the following strands of enquiry: (1) specific studies of Greek and Roman cultures in their historical contexts, (2) specific studies of Medieval and Renaissance cultures in their historical contexts, (3) a critical dialogue with the classical legacy in modern Europe, (4) outreach activities both in schools, and for the general public designed to promote wider knowledge of Classical cultures and the place they occupy within contemporary culture and intellectual life, (5) developing pedagogical methodologies such as e-learning programs and the construction of relevant and useful databases, and (6) the dissemination of research findings through various forms of scientific cooperation and publication at a national and an international level. As a consequence of the presentation during the site visit and the ensuing discussion with the panel, the importance of this thematic approach to Classical Studies and the manner in which it informed the activities of the Centre as a whole became evident. Also, this strategic approach was instrumental in creating a valuable and transparent synergy between the subgroups that comprise the Centre. The choice of a common theme, allowing both for in-depth research in the classical epochs and for a critical dialogue with the present, functions as a very effective means of enhancing both a shared responsibility among the researchers for the output of the entire Centre and also contributes to a collective dynamics that offers ample space for individual initiatives in a collective framework. There is no doubt that the Centre is capable both of defining its objectives and carrying them forward very effectively at both a national and an international level.


3. ADMINISTRATIVE STRUCTURE

The Centre is comprised of some 35 researchers holding a Phd, and is organized in three groups: Greek, Latin and Medieval/Renaissance, with a fourth group on theatre as a multi•disciplinary activity designed to integrate members from all groups in performative and outreach drama activities; this group involves both students and staff and research agendas are generated by the concrete projects that centre on the issue of performance.
This last group was earlier an independent separate group, but its activities proved to be of such general relevance to all research lines that its principal investigator is now charged with the task of co-ordinating the interdisciplinary strands of each of the groups with regard to performance studies and practices. It is as a consequence of the Centre’s well organized administrative structure and the cooperative spirit that it has fostered, that this innovative strategy has proved to be an asset to the Centre as a whole. The Centre is governed by a Scientific Council comprising all Ph.d researchers, and an Executive Body consisting of the Coordinator, the four principal investigators representing the three groups plus the co-ordinator of the interdisciplinary theatre group, along with two secretaries who carry out the day-to-day administrative tasks within the Centre. The internal structures of the Centre are overseen by an international committee of advisors from outside Portugal, all of whom are engaged in cooperation with the Centre. This structure has proved to be both flexible and efficient across the full range of the Centre’s administrative and intellectual activities such as: finance, identifying problems and goals, organization of research and relations with the host institution. The website is well organized, but is not fully up to date and does not contain enough information about all of the areas of the Centre’s activities.


4. PRODUCTIVITY

4.1 PUBLICATIONS

The details of publications, conference organization and participation as well as MA output and production of Ph.d dissertations are listed in the Centre’s report to the FCT. Of particular interest is the journal HVMANITAS, which began publication in 1947 (only issues up to 2002 are available on the net), a Centre Bulletin whose emphasis is mainly didactic, and a series of edited volumes that focus particularly upon the different conceptions of ‘Europe’. The process of peer reviewing practice needs to be more clearly established, although this is a Portuguese problem rather than a matter that is unique to this Centre. The number of publications that the Centre has produced to date is satisfactory, and they range across the entire field of classical studies and their legacy. However, dissemination of the Centre’s published work outside Portugal, Spain and Italy needs to be improved, and publications that extend beyond conference proceedings should be encouraged. This last point is of particular importance, since the Centre is currently engaged in a number of important larger international projects.


4.2 TRAINING

The integration of doctoral students in the Centre’s activities is a major achievement. However, the general problem for all Portuguese doctoral students involves the amount of weekly teaching that they are expected to undertake in order to fund their studies and this issue affects the work of this Centre also. The Centre attempts to assist students by providing paid employment and by supporting their research travel and conference participation. Library facilities are adequate. Also, the Centre assists students, where possible, in publishing their dissertations. The communication between the doctoral students and the Centre is efficient, and the administrative structure and applications procedures are transparent to the students. However, as yet, the Centre has no doctoral seminar program, neither in Coimbra nor in cooperation with other national and international universities.


4.3 ACADEMIC EVENTS

The Centre organizes an important number of seminars and conferences, members continuously present papers at a number of international conferences, and these papers are often included in published conference proceedings. These events are, to a certain extent, carried out in cooperation with a number of European universities, particularly in the neighbouring European romance countries and the UK. However, participation appears not to be the consequence of individual invitation, and it is not clear whether, and how often, participation is based on a rigorous peer-selection process.


4.4 OUTREACH

The outreach activities are of an extraordinary high quality, seeking to communicate research findings in an impressively creative manner. For example, the performance activities promoted by the theatre group “Thiasos” are particularly innovative. The group performs at festivals and in schools and it organizes workshops. Moreover, performances are based on new translations made by the Centre and these texts are offered as the tickets for the performance. In this way the theatre group demonstrates its combined commitment to the interdisciplinary research agenda of the while at the same time extending the Centre’s influence by means of a unique outreach activity that conforms with international standards at all levels. The Centre also is in constant contact with secondary schools and adult teaching in relation to its overall research themes. Finally, production of CDs and exhibitions are planned for the future. Also, a further development of net-based material and e-learning designed mainly for students, and undertaken in co-operation with other universities, is currently in progress. The outreach profile of the Centre is remarkable, not only in terms of the wide range of activities but also in terms of the manner in which it is fully integrated into its research foundation.


5. MANAGEMENT STRATEGY

The present structure is efficient, flexible and transparent, and allows for continuous involvement of all the members of the Centre. The Centre is particularly mindful of its responsibility to younger researchers and to the need to build into its structures mechanisms for the continuation of its work from one generation to the next. The Centre also appears to have fostered a secure and stable relation to the host institution, and a productive relationship with outside funding bodies. The policies of the Centre are clear and the finances are well managed. Above all, the management organization allows for a collective self-reflexion that enables the Centre to continuously redefine its aims and goals and to create a collegial spirit that permeates all of its activities. The management structure is exemplary and has been very carefully thought through; it is dynamic, responsive, innovative, and collegial, and therefore well able to foresee future difficulties and to generate strategies designed to deal with them.


6. FUTURE PLANNING

As can be seen from the above, the future planning is already part of the present activities at the Centre and is almost certain to continue to be so. The Centre’s strategy has been one of seeking to develop a stable, shared, dynamic and responsive conceptual framework for its research activities, while at the same time taking cognizance of the growing emphasis on e-learning and web based dissemination that is likely to become increasingly used in the future. There are a number of postgraduate theses currently in progress, and in matters such as the selection of topics and supervision, progress is directed by clear goals and strategies. With specific regard to the journal HVMANITAS, consideration should be given to the possibility that it may be strategic to concentrate the research and publication effort of different Centres into one major national journal. If, and only if, negotiations with other centres can be brought to a successful conclusion, this move may prove a means of strengthening the international profile of Classical Studies in Portugal.


7. REGIONAL ROLE

The Centre is clearly positioned in a national rather than in a regional context.


8. NATIONAL INTEREST

It is clearly in the national interest that a classical Centre should thrive at the oldest university in Portugal. The Centre seems to be fully aware of its responsibility in this area, and is sufficiently robust in all of its activities to be able to respond to this challenge.


9. INTERNATIONAL PROFILE

On of the declared objectives of the Centre is to consolidate its international position, and the community of classical scholars is clearly international. However, the Centre will need to rethink its publication strategy in order to channel its emphasis away from conference proceedings and into book publication with major international publishers, both with existing, as well as with new partners. The aims and goals of the Centre – the dialogue with the classical tradition in today’s world – already provide an excellent foundation for this redirection of its intellectual effort. Also, the e-learning and web based initiatives may serve as an important lever for such a development. An international engagement via the journal, supported by a clear and transparent peer reviewing process, would improve the Centre’s international position. Attempts to reach out to new partners and formalize relationships can be admirably justified by the range of high quality activities of the Centre. In short it has something important to disseminate.


10. GRADING OF CENTRE AND EVALUATIVE STATEMENT

The classification of the Centre is excellent. It has an impressive cohesiveness in its conceptual framework, its organization and its capacity to renew its structure, and by looking ahead in strategic and conceptual terms, it will ensure the future for its activities. Moreover, the Centre is permeated by dynamic and future-oriented collaborative ethos.


11. RECOMMENDATIONS

i) To improve international publications

ii) To enlarge the geographical reach of formalized international networks

iii) To continue the development of web based activities in an international cooperation

iv) To develop a permanent doctoral seminar program

v) To reconsider the role of HVMANITAS in relation to its national and international position and to seek means to improve is organizational structure (peer reviewing, the possibility of one national journal, international publisher etc.)

vi) To continue the Centre’s outreach activities

vii) To continue to work within a shared conceptual framework while maintaining the present structure of research groups


12. SUPPORT/DISCONTINUATION OF RESEARCH LINES

The panel recommends that the support to all research lines be continued. The Centre has succeeded in creating an organic whole, with a clear synergy between four groups, one of which is an interdisciplinary group that successfully provides a core synergy for the Centre.
Sobre os grupos de investigação
Greek Studies [RG-LIT-Centro-Coimbra-196-662]
Latin Studies [RG-LIT-Centro-Coimbra-196-663]
Medieval and Renaissance Studies [RG-LIT-Centro-Coimbra-196-664]
Theatre Pragmatics [RG-X-LIT-Centro-Coimbra-196-665]