Last April 30th, the Communication and Society Research Centre (CECS) celebrated its twentieth anniversary.
Founded in 2001, when Communication Sciences became more visible in the context of Social Sciences and Humanities in Portugal, CECS has expanded as part of a national movement towards the consolidation of an autonomous and legitimate scientific field.
In the last two decades, CECS has focused its activities in four areas: Research, Intervention, Publication and Education, and has invested in collaborative activities, developing strong links with several research networks, promoting partnerships with a wide range of national and international stakeholders.
Regarding Research, since its inception, the CECS has been a crucial structure for the reinforcement of Communication in the Portuguese context and internationally, with particular impact in the Portuguese and Spanish speaking regions. Aligned with the European scientific agenda, its programmatic planning is based on the vision of Communication and on broader socio-historical approaches. For this reason, the centre’s activities seek to contribute to study and debate the role that media and communication systems play in today’s world, providing citizens with quality information and reinforcing promising futures.
The CECS consists of three research groups: Communication, Territories, Organizations and Social Dynamics; Cultural Studies; and Media and Journalism. The first group brings together researchers with different theoretical and methodological backgrounds, crossing areas such as Communication, Sociology, History, Education, Demography and Geography. The Cultural Studies group is characterised by its multidisciplinary nature. Focused on the political and aesthetic dynamics of contemporary culture, this group carries out research on identities, memory, Lusophone expression, discourse and languages, visual culture, art, communication and aesthetics. The Media and Journalism group focuses its activity on the field of media and has developed work in two main research lines: attention to the transformations of media and the reconfiguration of the ecology of communication; and the approach of media and journalism with respect to the strengthening of citizenship and democracy.
As a research centre of excellence, it has hosted more than 60 scientific projects on themes such as media education, television studies, sound studies, health communication, ageing, forensic genetics, cultural heritage and, more recently, mediation and forest fires.
Researchers also participated in the global effort to combat the pandemic caused by the new Coronavirus, producing studies on the impact of COVID-19 in the research areas they usually work: Scientific Studies on COVID-19.
Seeking to adopt an active and interventive role in the community, the Communication and Society Research Centre created six platforms: the think tank Communitas; the Virtual Museum of Lusophony, Passeio, MilObs, PolObs and CreateLab.
Since 2019, the CECS has sought to adapt to the pandemic context, looking with particular attention to the social and communicational effects of the exceptional circumstances in which we live, seeking to intervene in favour of the development of scientific knowledge and the quality of life of the community. Within the framework of the CECS Intervention, considering the strong presence of researchers in the media and the scientific and social contribution that this presence brought to the public discussion about the pandemic, a space for sharing and disseminating this form of intervention was created from the Centre’s social networks: InOutCovid-19.
In twenty years of existence, the CECS also bet on Publications and became editor of three scientific journals: Comunicação e Sociedade, Lusophone Journal of Cultural Studies and Vista. During this period, it has published more than twenty books on themes such as Journalism, Cultural Studies, Public Relations, Audiovisual, among others.
In the Education area, UMinho’s research unit promotes a wide offer of post-graduate studies, integrating one hundred PhD students and about 200 Master’s students. It is also a host institution for many foreign students and researchers for training periods. Associated to CECS are, currently, the doctoral programmes of Communication Sciences, Cultural Studies, Communication Studies and Sociology.
The twentieth anniversary of the Communication and Society Research Centre was celebrated with the initiative “Meeting with Researchers: dialogues on science policy“. The event was attended by the Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, Manuel Heitor, and the rector of UMinho, Rui Vieira de Castro.