The Doctoral Programme in ‘Governance, Knowledge, and Innovation’ offered by the Faculty of Economics, University of Coimbra, and organized by the Centre for Social Studies (CES), was launched in 2005/2006 and kicks off its eighth edition in 2018/2019. The programme complies with the organisational forms proposed by the Bologna Declaration for the 3rd cycle of higher education studies. Currently, the third, fourth and fifth editions are under way, with the conduction of research seminars and research work to prepare the doctoral dissertations. Students develop research through institutionalist approaches to economics, innovation economy and knowledge and to social sciences. Some examples of thesis themes are the institutions of social economics, innovation in public administration, housing credit and the financial system, the crisis and the Economic and Monetary Union, values, and valuation in environmental policies, the role of patient organizations within the health system, , the perceptions and narratives of illness, global health challenges and knowledge networks, European policies and higher education, the participation in the definition of public policies, industrial property rights and traditional knowledge.

PhD students that arrive in Coimbra come from diverse cultural backgrounds and attend a genuinely international centre. The seminars and research conducted at CES reflect that diversity. Our researchers have a vast experience in a wide range of topics and countries and our students conduct research in four continents. Unlike other centres where students are expected to follow the research agendas set up by their advisors, CES is open to proposals that meet the PhD students’ objectives. The diversity evidenced in our student body lies partly in the fact that several of our PhD students already have a professional experience, sometimes on leave. Others who have recently obtained their master’s degree, come to develop work aiming at deepening their study field.


The Doctoral Programme takes on a range of themes of paramount importance in the governance of contemporary societies and economics, especially when we face the challenges of innovation. Hence there is the notion that governance has become extraordinarily complex and is a multi-dimensional process mobilising several coordination mechanisms – the State, the market, the community, networks, companies and business hierarchies. The term ‘governance’ and its recurrent use derives precisely from the fact that one cannot concentrate the analysis on the market, or on the State, or on the standing alone business strategies. Thus, the coordination of actors, processes and specific dynamics has become crucial, and it is evident that the institutional dimension of economic and social performance is taken into account.

The processes of governance are considered, particularly with respect to the central dynamics of contemporary societies and economies, as are innovation or, more generally, the production and use of knowledge. These interactions are analysed with emphasis on two different approaches (corresponding to two programme’s profiles), namely, the use and production of knowledge and innovation in the context of the dynamics of economy and of public policies, and the analysis of their social impacts and the way in which different processes of governance seek to identify and mitigate such impacts. These two approaches, even if with different focuses, are not opposing. One of the most innovative contributions of the present programme lies precisely in the way how an enriching dialogue between the two approaches is pursued, ensuring seminars which are common to both profiles.

The proposed approach is, therefore, strongly inter-disciplinary. New disciplinary relations are valued, as well as the most innovative forms of knowledge production within the disciplines, thus also giving meaning to the diversity of social, organisational, political and institutional contexts in which knowledge is produced. In this respect, the programme enhances the production of knowledge, dealing with the politics of science, the social impacts of knowledge and of technologies and the relations with innovation policies, either regarding public policies, or where it is incorporated in wider social structures and processes.

The objectives of the programme thus include a conceptual and analytical deepening purpose on contemporary societies, institutions, actors, policies and relational processes which provide them with substance and specificity, be it historical, geographic, or political. The aim is thus to achieve a significant theoretical awareness and an analytical capacity, with a view to studying and understanding contemporary societies, the policies and the institutional processes of governance and innovation

"At CES, the recognition of acquired knowledges throughout academic and professional paths of each PhD student is guaranteed. Seminars take into account that diversity and challenge our knowledges from a critical perspective, allowing from the beginning for in depth reflections on the individual research interests."

Samuel Vilela, all but dissertation (Portugal)