Bringing an century old institution into modern science landscape
The case of University of Coimbra Institute of Legal Research
Topic: Organising Support Services & Team Building
University of Coimbra Institute for Legal research (UCILeR) has been re-established as a Research Unit under the new Statutes of the Faculty of Law, in 2013. The link between higher education and research – a centenary tradition, which was never really interrupted at the institution – was thus given a new institutional framework. In tune with the present-day concerns, UCILeR is specifically dedicated to developing interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research, organised in thematic lines and research groups, by fostering applied research and establishing partnerships with world-renowned research centres.
Fully aware of the Faculty of Law at University of Coimbra contribution for the production and dissemination of legal knowledge in the last few centuries, it is UCILeR purpose to follow along that same path and, amidst the new circumstances of contemporaneity, to direct our research toward the new societal challenges that the University must address. As an institution, UCILeR is proud of its past, and this is an additional motive to meet the highest standards of excellence in its future activity.
Indeed, UCILeR has two official starting dates: the first in 1911 and the other in 2013. This double birth still marks the identity and the understanding of how science is done at this research institute. The goal of this case study is to understand how science managers and science communicators can use the past traditions of a research institution and adapt to modern day needs of the scientific field, managing the past that shapes the institution and forging a path to the future.
The analysis of institutional history is important to define its position in the scientific field, to understand researcher’s identity, and to brand the organization. This analysis is relevant because institutional history is one of the great conditions for science management. Its knowledge can help to understand the current and inner practices, and also allows for the creation of more effective strategies, as they will be based on knowledge and historical positioning, being coherent with the identity of its researchers.
This case study was based on the analysis of the decree-law of April 18th 1911 that implements the reform of legal education, official institutional documents present, and European scientific guidelines to understand the overall context where the research unit is placed. From this analysis, this study intends to reflect on the history and identity of the University of Coimbra Institute of Legal Research, firstly understanding the contexts of its emergence, secondly through the researcher's profile, and thirdly mapping the external pressures and internal models that shaped the narrative of the Institute. Finally, I propose to advance the case study towards the construction of a memory portfolio of the institution's research and its implications for the science management of the University of Coimbra Institute of Legal Research.