Coordination resulting from the partnership with the Federal University of Minas Gerais: Leonardo Avritzer
What is democracy? Where does the idea come from? How can it be justified and in what grounds? What are the boundaries? What transformations took place in the last century and what innovations mark the expansion in number and quality of the new millennium democratic regimes? These and other issues at the core of the democratic theory represent the starting point of the Doctoral Programme in "Democracy in the 21st Century".
This is an advanced interdisciplinary training programme which will promote a comprehensive and integrated perspective over the main challenges facing democracies today. Focussing on the contemporary debate from the 21st century, the course offers an introduction to democratic theory critical analysis and develops various emerging topics of great importance to the current international debate, such as political ecology, eurocentrism and antiracism, the relation between democracy and science, the experience of the communitarian and participatory democracy and the democracy dynamics at a regional and international level.
This doctoral programme, "Democracy in the 21st Century", benefits from the vast research experience of CES-Associated Lab, the University of Coimbra's Faculty of Economy (FEUC) and a partnership with the Doctoral Programme in Political Sciences of Minas Gerais Federal University (BR), and critically discusses the North-South and South-South perspectives, as well as contextualizing the development of the advanced studies relating to political phenomena in the various European, African, Latin-american and Asian areas.
The doctoral programme "Democracy in the 21st Century" started in 2007/2008 and holds its fifth edition in 2016/2017. It is a third cycle programme, in compliance with the organization formats proposed by Bologna Declaration and accredited by the Assessment and Accreditation Agency for Higher Education (A3ES).
Main lines of research
The doctoral programme articulates four main lines of research:
- Diversity and Citizenship
This line of research aims at comparing different approaches on citizenship as well as exploring issues about cultural inclusion, interculturalism, racial equality, and the fight for the recognition of cultural and religious minorities and those with different sexual orientation. It focuses mainly on topics such as feminism, integration/inclusion politics, the fight for racial equality and other related issues.
- Compared Democracies
This line of research aims at analysing practices of democracy enrichment and innovation through various forms of citizen participation in the territorial and budgetary planning and in the decision-making process of public policies. Special focus is given to local and regional innovation, such as the Participatory Budget and knowledge democratization practices, namely the Health Councils and others matching the various fields of knowledge and citizens with specific scopes of action in science and technology. Focus is also given to the reconstitucionalization processes identified in various countries, for example countries in Africa and Latin-America, where there has been an activation of civil society consultation processes, in a comparative framework.
- Participation, networks and social movements
This line of research aims at analysing emerging social movement and their interconnection networks, from a broad understanding of the concept of "political" and the "politization" work. What is discussed here is the possibility of transforming what seems non-political into political. This transformation implies approaching topics and experiences which have been invisible to the majority of the civil society and the State, as well as creating new power relationships through actions and confrontations of elevated public visibility. The research work of the doctoral students in this area must fall upon comparing these initiatives with other movements registered in previous periods and in different contexts. Special focus is given to the topics of political ecology and the artistic movements under the fight for the conquest of the Right to the City.
- Global Governance
This line of research aims at identifying the global governance mechanisms and dynamics, questioning the place and density of the democracy within those processes and critically analysing their impact on democratic practices at a regional, national and local scale. It also aims at exploring the connection between democracy, peace and conflict.
Link teaching - learning - research - action
The doctoral programme "Democracy in the 21st Century" has made a significant effort, from its first edition, to incorporate the doctoral students in the research of the topics under analysis. During the 4 years of the programme, various doctoral students have integrated or followed numerous projects carried out at CES and UFMG, contributing to the definition of the studies and fieldwork, and participating in the final and middle reports, as well as the publications or audio-visual material presented by the projects. The programme has also often offered short-term periodic scholarships for specific works linked to the various projects. Additionally, the students can actively participate in activities developed by the CES Centres, such as the Centre for Studies on Democracy, Citizenship and Law (DECIDe), the Centre for Studies on Science, Economy and Society (NECES), the Centre for Studies on Humanities, Migrations and Studies for Peace (NHUMEP) or others with which they have an affinity with regards to their research interests.
The students can contribute to research projects to be implemented into the permanent structures at CES, analysing relevant phenomena for the transformations in democracy, such as the Participation Observatory, the Innovation and Local Powers (PEOPLES'), situated at CES-Coimbra, and the Brazilian Justice Observatory at UFMG.
As has happened in previous editions, the students can also participate and get directly involved in the organization of seminars, event labs and international networks - such as the "Participedia" meetings and the Global Platform for the Right to the City, the Biennial of the Public Space in Rome - through visits organized by the coordination of the Programme. The coordination is in permanent dialogue with the students and open to new proposals and requests to extend the scope of involvement in other activities co-organized amongst students, lecturers and third party organizations.
Structure of the Programme
The doctoral programme "Democracy in the 21st Century" consists of four academic years. During the first three academic semesters, the lecturing is organized by seminars, 3 in each semester of the first year and 2 in the first semester of the second year. During this year and a half, the programme's lectures are compulsory and work as seminars, on Fridays and Saturdays. The programme's working languages are Portuguese and English.
Each seminar is coordinated by members of the lecturing team and will have lectures and conferences given by lecturers and researchers at FEUC and CES, as well as professors and experts, especially those connected to the research projects and the work of the thematic centres comprising the CES' research structure and articulating with the main topics of the doctoral programme. The seminars are open participation spaces of detailed debate, not only regarding the theoretical frameworks essential to the doctoral programme, but also practical and contextualized experiences relating to the four lines of research of this programme (Diversity and Citizenship; Compared Democracies; Participation; Networks and Social Movements and Global Governance).
The first semester of the second year is dedicated to a Seminar in Research Methodologies and the Thesis Project. The doctoral students are expected to actively participate in a number of modules about research methods and how to write a dissertation, as well as the empirical research methods. The curricular programme will also consider and oversee, throughout the semester, the experience of the students and the dilemmas raised by the preparation of their research work (for example the implications of theoretical and methodological options). At the end of the semester, all doctoral students will defend their thesis project before a jury.
If their projects are approved, the second and third years will be dedicated to developing field work and furthering the research. During this period, a frequent contact is expected with the supervisor, as well as progress reports and a permanent dialogue regarding the research developed. On the second semester of the second year, the programme has organized optional field trips to international events about democracy (such as "Biennial of Democracy" in Turin, Italy, or "Reinventing Democracy" in Grenoble, France).
The third and fourth years are dedicated to the production of the doctoral thesis. The students are expected to meet regularly with the supervisors to comment and discuss the chapters and ideas that will integrate the thesis. This preliminary work is also presented to the lecturers and the colleagues of the programme, in the context of a seminar specifically dedicated to writing the thesis.
Over the four years, the students have the opportunity to attend numerous seminars and conferences with national and international renowned guest speakers. Once received by CES and FEUC, the doctoral programme students have access to the entire academic, scientific and logistic level of their institutions.
CES is a pole of concentration of critical and diverse thinking. As an activist, CES provided me an intellectually stimulant environment to develop my ideas, discuss them and learn with academic-activists, students, researchers and professors from across the world.
Jonas Van Vossole, all but dissertation (Belgium)