When it started, some didn't think it would last. Five years later, it was already considered one of the best initiatives of the university. Ten years ago, NOVA Escola Doctoral was born, a free extra-curricular programme for doctoral students.
At the celebration that took place this Wednesday, the 15th, in the auditorium of the rectory of the NOVA University Lisbon, the enthusiasm of those who were there at the beginning of the project was evident to the audience - Charlie Chaplin and Carlos do Carmo. The privilege of those who have benefited from many of the residential model courses that have taken place in the Convento da Arrábida was shared. Thinking about the future, it was also assumed that this "pre-teen", entering its 2.0 phase, was already defining the University's international expansion model.
"It started with the ambition to fill a gap in the training of doctoral students; five years later, it was considered by everyone to be one of the best initiatives of the University", said NOVA's Rector, João Sàágua, at the opening of the ceremony, about the exceptional training that aims to link the academic and the future job - and which also has the added value of guaranteeing ECTS credits to the participants. "It never stopped working, not even during the pandemic," he concluded proudly.
João Paulo Crespo, the current director of ITQB NOVA and the vice-rector who oversaw the programme a decade ago, also stressed that "the intention has always been to add value to the work of schools" - after recalling that much of what they proposed was inspired by the model of excellence of Imperial College London.
"It is indeed an inspiring genesis," João Amaro de Matos, the vice-rector who currently coordinates the education area at NOVA, would soon acknowledge, adding that his training model, which cuts across all schools and areas of knowledge, is already marking the expansion of the university - in similar programmes with students from partner universities in the EUTOPIA alliance, for example. "Our ambition now is to be a reference in the panorama of European universities," he concluded, quoting Carlos do Carmo and the famous verse from "In your poem": "A blank verse waiting for the future".
The teachers and the initial team did not hide their pride in having launched such a "pedagogical innovation", even if "the Doctoral School was a case study" - for proposing transversal knowledge in all areas of knowledge and not having two courses in the same, before formations that are reinvented each time they start.
The success was such that at a certain point, as you well remember, there were already students asking for this or that training - and, as was also said there, some courses are even designed to encourage those who are on the long road to a doctorate - this will be the case of "Finishing my PhD: The next 90 days", which takes place next week and for which applications are still being accepted here.
Finally, the laudatory words of António Rendas, Rector of NOVA at the time of the NOVA Doctoral School's inauguration, echoed throughout the room. He would be the one to remember Chaplin, who would inspire the lyrics of the poem Luzes da Ribalta, a song later popularised by Maria Betânia, referring to the verse "the ideal that has always cherished us".
Hoping for another ten years, António Rendas left another challenge: "Write papers about this, there is a story to be told here". The medals awarded at the end of the event to all those who took part in these 10 years of history leave no doubt!