CES Summer School

Rekindling civic imagination for social change

June 7 to 11, 2021

Online event


We all – adults and children, writers and readers – have an obligation to daydream.
We have an obligation to imagine.
It is easy to pretend that nobody can change anything, that we are in a world
in which society is huge and the individual is less than nothing: an atom in a wall, a grain of rice in a rice field.
But the truth is, individuals change their world over and over,
individuals make the future, and they do it by imagining that things can be different.
«Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming»

Image © Gabriella Clare Marino / Unsplash

'Civic imagination' refers to the ability to imagine alternatives to contemporary cultural, social, political and/or economic conditions. Research on civic imagination (Jenkins et al. 2020) has created a space where the humanities meet the social sciences to, together, explore the socio-political consequences of cultural representations and the cultural roots of political participation. This process creates the need to (re)think our voice as political agents of change and how we understand and dream about relationships with others, human and non-human, and with planet Earth; and to reimagine how we experience freedom, respect and democracy in challenging times when these rights are denied.

The decision-making process in scientific research has systematically taken place outside the public arena, with undesirable consequences in the production of knowledge and the creation of distrust in the relationship with different groups of society. Science communication and citizen science have been key factors in the search for new ways to bring science closer to different communities, namely through initiatives in which researchers and the public can learn from each other through cooperation. Public debates, discussion forums and the involvement of the studied communities have been some of the mechanisms used to mitigate the vertical transmission of information and favour public participation, involving different agents and struggling against the knowledge gap between academia and society in general.

The last decades have been marked by profound changes in the social, political and economic landscape, in different cultural and geographical contexts, accompanied by a widening and dominance of social networks that have dramatically changed sociabilities, the construction and distribution of knowledge and, consequently, collective action. The media and pop culture play a fundamental active role in this scenario, with the younger age groups adopting political metaphors taken from film and literary sagas, as well as from music, resources that inspire us to fight for a better world. In this way, groups from different geographies and backgrounds have sought to communicate their visions of the world through artistic expression, using pop culture as a language capable of mapping past and future trajectories that help to imagine and create alternatives to the sometimes dystopian present.

CES Summer School “Rekindling the civic imagination for social change” intends to debate what these civic futures can be and to strengthen bridges and trust between academia, the arts and social movements. Drawing on several examples that frame different functions that civic imagination can play, on interdisciplinary theoretical contributions and intersectional empirical work on different areas of knowledge, this programme aims to discuss and analyse:

- The behaviour of the population in the context of the economic and social crisis of recent years from collective action by protest. In this context, particular attention will be given to the discursive resources framed by this form of collective action, projecting the main imaginaries that these narratives encompass. Also in this framework, collective action by protest is discussed as a legitimate strategy of pressure and imagination on change presented as a conventional way of participating in the country's collective projects.

- The active search for agency and voice for social justice in the public space by young people, expressed through graphic inscriptions, flashmobs, hip hop culture, but also new media and formats (e.g.: memes), including in the claim for "linguistic citizenship" rights, for the decolonisation of multilingualism and education and the construction of alternative knowledges of the future.

- The role of the media as (re)producers and normalizers of imaginaries of violence sustained by notions of hegemonic masculinity and simultaneously as a space of great potential for the deconstruction of those same imaginaries and for the negotiation of notions of masculinity more in line with gender equality and social transformation.

- The network activism of fans, their use of technologies and discourses, at the intersection of cultural and political participation, understanding its impact on contemporary collective action. Fans are understood here as interpreters and creators of content (not just media consumers), living in a culture that remixes and reconstructs narratives and interacting with the cultural and creative industries in profound ways. Young people's relationship with technology has transformed their discourses, interpersonal relationships and the way they participate in different communities, how they use mediums, in the broad sense, and claim rights (e.g. climate change).

Structure of the Summer School: five days with theoretical sessions, round tables, workshops and cultural programme. The Summer School sessions will be held in Portuguese and English.

Keynote speaker
Henry Jenkins, University of Southern California (USA)

Teaching Team:

Ana Raquel Matos, Faculty of Economics and Centre for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra 
Dora Fonseca, Centre for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra 
Fernanda Belizário, Agência Piaget para o Desenvolvimento/Research in Education and Community Intervention (APDES/RECI)
Haley De Korne, University of Oslo (Norway)
José Manuel Mendes, Centre for Social Studies and Faculty of Economics of the University of Coimbra
Quentin Willliams, University of West Cape (South Africa)
Rita Alcaire, Centre for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra 
Rita Grácio, CICANT - Centro de Investigação em Comunicação Aplicada, Cultura e Novas Tecnologias, Universidade Lusófona
Rodrigo Lacerda, Centro em Rede de Investigação em Antropologia (CRIA) / NOVA FCSH
Simone Eringfeld, Cambridge University (UK)
Sofia José Santos, Centre for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra 
Tatiana Moura, Centre for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra /Instituto Promundo


Carlota Houart, Centre for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra 
Paula Abreu, Faculty of Economics of the University of Coimbra/Centre for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra 
Rita Alcaire, Centre for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra 

Target Audience: Estudantes de mestrado e doutoramento, agentes culturais, artistas e ativistas.

Registration Fee: 50€

Applications: Summer School Applicants must send a biographical note (up to 300 words) and a cover letter (up to 700 words) outlining why they would like to attend this School, how the topic fits their interests and how it would enrich their knowledge, as well as describing how their participation could contribute to the group's discussion. Applications must be submitted [HERE] by 24h on the April 4th. For any queries or additional information use the email

Important Dates:

4 de abril - deadline for applications
18 de abril - participant's selection;
1-14 de maio - registration and payment.

Organising Committee/CoordinatorsRita Alcaire, Olga Solovova, Júlia Garraio e Ana Raquel Matos.