CES was founded in 1978 by a small group of researchers who, under the direction of Boaventura de Sousa Santos, started the publication of Revista Crítica de Ciências Sociais as a transdisciplinary project. In 1987, benefiting from the new favorable funding conditions for the Social Sciences and the Humanities in Portugal, it obtained its first significant grant to carry out a major collaborative research project. Its increasing consolidation as a centre of excellence was crowned in 2002, year in which CES was granted the statute of Associate Laboratory. In 2004, it launched an ambitious strategy of advanced training with the establishment of its first doctoral programme. Over the years, besides carrying out hundreds of research projects, several of them at a large international scale, CES was responsible for developing a large number of initiatives with a major impact both within the scientific community and in the society in general. Long-term monitoring of public policies, a consistent outreach and dissemination strategy and a large publication output contribute to the growing public resonance of CES’ research. Currently, CES has 133 researchers, 122 postdoctoral students and 468 doctoral students.