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PORTO DECLARATION ON HIGHER
EDUCATION AND CULTURE

TOWARDS THE CONSTRUCTION OF A EUROPEAN CULTURAL CORRIDOR


The Porto Declaration on Higher Education & Culture results from the collaborative work dynamics created by the EU University & Culture Summit: Fostering the Union through Culture and the Arts, held online on the 29th and the 30th of March 2021.
Jointly hosted by the University of Porto and the Portuguese National Plan for the Arts in the framework of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the Summit aimed at discussing a cultural agenda for Higher Education Institutions capable of fostering the Union by creating new attitudes towards issues that are focal societal challenges for Europe and the world.
A copy of the Declaration was handed on June 17 to Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth.

This Declaration is open for signing by citizens and institutions.

The undersigned call for collective efforts and action throughout Europe towards the of a European Cultural Corridor for Higher Education students covered by the ERASMUS+ Programme. The Corridor is to be the main output of a common cultural plan that engages Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the democratic reform of Europe.
We believe that, in the context of the post-COVID-19 crisis, when HEIs are realigning their priorities to respond to the pandemic’s effects, and several funding programmes are available to build a resilient European Union, this is a opportunity for Culture. We subscribe to the idea, stated in several documents published by the European Commission, such as A New European Agenda for Culture (2018) and the Strategic Plan 2020-24 – Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture (2020), that culture is the basis for social cohesion, the vision that binds us together; it is an instrument of soft power, capable of (re)shaping identities, activating citizenship awareness and engaging communities – and it is part of the solution to the problems the EU is experiencing today.
We consider that in a society that is becoming increasingly plural and complex, HEIs need to assert their cultural vocation and be open, transformative spaces, fostering enthusiasm for community life, the celebration of diverse cultures and perspectives, and awareness that we are all connected and share responsibility for the society to which we belong. This requires that HEIs define a cultural plan based on a shared vision of social and ecological justice, promoting affective bonds with places and communities, and creating a spatial and organizational environment that favours the free circulation of ideas and fosters students’ creativity and civic engagement.
We acknowledge that HEIs across Europe already offer their students a remarkable variety of cultural activities. This does not mean, however, that they have a plan for culture, which implies a continuing, coordinated and systematic process of formulations and practices. It is urgent that HEIs define a plan for culture in the medium and long term, involving both the academic and non-academic communities in the process.
We stand for the idea that HEIs need to invest in a transformative and two-way relationship with society, participating in the construction of the communities but also providing space for the communities to participate in the construction of the HEIs. This means, on the one hand, that students must go beyond the walls of the HEIs and learn with local cultural institutions, and, on the other hand, that the social and cultural values of both HEIs and local cultural institutions are fine-tuned, ensuring the integration, into their cultural agendas, of pressing themes such as the need for inclusion, accessibility, and ecological justice.
We further believe it is essential that the higher education system does not replicate the social and economic inequalities that dominate the world outside academia. Democratic access to higher education needs to go beyond providing students with equal opportunities for specialized training and include democratic access to Culture. Only in this way will Europe be able to neutralize the social and economic drivers of inequality.
We thus propose the construction of a European Cultural Corridor, integrated by cultural institutions providing free access, or at a significantly reduced price, to holders of the European Student Card. We firmly believe that the Corridor will be an invaluable tool for promoting social equity and introducing students to new worlds, aesthetic sensibilities and worldviews that will eventually foster intercultural competencies; and that it will contribute to higher levels of cultural participation for future generations.
In this light, we, the undersigned, commit ourselves to:
Reaffirming that we are determined to contribute to the construction of a more resilient post-pandemic European society, we:
We, the undersigned, call on the European Commission to encourage HEIs, non-academic cultural institutions and any other potentially interested parties to join this project by:

Please fill in the form below if you wish to endorse the Declaration.

Endorse the Declaration


Signatures

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  • Fátima Vieira, Vice-Rector for Culture, University of Porto
  • Manuel Heitor , Minister, Mctes- minister for science, technology and higher education, government of Portugal
  • Paulo Pires do Vale, Comissário , Plano Nacional das Artes
  • Graça Fonseca, Ministra da Cultura, Governo de Portugal
  • Delfim Leão, Vice-Rector for Culture and Open Sience, University of Coimbra
  • João Caetano, Pro-Rector for Legal and Institutional Affairs, Aberta University
  • Peter Hanenberg, Vice-Reitor, Universidade Católica Portuguesa
  • Joaquim Paulo Serra, Vice-reitor, Universidade da Beira Interior
  • António José Estêvão Grande Candeias, Vice-Rector for Research and Development, University of Évora
  • Saúl Neves de Jesus, Vice-Rector, University of Algarve
  • Susana Alexandra Pacheco Valente da Silva Barros, Executive and cultural coordinator of the Abel Salazar House Museum , Rectorate of the University of Porto
  • Maria Manuela dos Reis Martins, Vice Rector, University of Minho
  • Nuno Francisco Machado , Researcher, University of Porto
  • Maria Inês Marques, Co-artistic director, Plataforma UMA
  • Marta Lourenco, Director National Museum of Natural History and Science, University of Lisbon
  • Isabel Salavisa, Vice-Rector for Research, ISCTE - Instituto Universitário de Lisboa
  • Susana Serro, Unidade de Cultura, Universidade do Porto
  • Marco Alexandre Carvalho Gabriel, Unidade de Cultura, Universidade do Porto
  • Tânia Cerqueira, Doctoral Candidate, University of Porto
  • Maria Cardeira da Silva, Deputy Dean for Internationalisation, Culture and External Relations. Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Universidade Nova de Lisboa

EU University & Culture Summit

FOSTERING THE UNION THROUGH CULTURE AND THE ARTS

An online event organised under the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU
March 29 & 30, 2021, GMT Time

A robust vision of the democratic reform of Europe for the post-COVID-19 era needs to take into consideration the critical role higher education institutions are to play in the process. The Union needs creative, talented, highly qualified citizens, open to the world and eager to welcome the Other, aware of the crucial issues of our times, and trained to transgress disciplinary frontiers, question practices and imagine new possibilities. This transformation cannot be achieved through specialised training only. New and significant knowledge can only be produced with the integration of tools offered by science and the arts.
This Summit stems from the idea that providing higher education ecosystems — students, researchers, teaching and non-teaching staff, as well as communities outside the campi — free access to cultural heritage, exposure to contemporary artistic discourses, and opportunities for expression through artistic experiences will contribute to the construction of a university culture at once scientific and artistic, guided by the principles of constant innovation, attention to the Other and ecological responsibility. Although in some countries a consistent cultural policy is already in place, it is time we acknowledge the urgency of forging a generous and generalised plan for the arts for higher education institutions across the EU, capable of fostering creativity, inclusion and wellbeing, and bringing about civic engagement and public value: a cultural progress which engenders social progress.
The Summit is jointly organised by the University of Porto and the Portuguese National Plan for the Arts. It is in keeping with the New European Agenda for Culture (2018) 1 and with the action lines of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2 to create a resilient Europe. It will convene representatives from all EU countries to map practices and debate the crucial and democratic role that the Arts may play in the repositioning of EU universities in the world. Hopefully, this will be a step towards constructing a cultural corridor for EU higher education students.
This Summit will be transmitted on this platform, as well as on YouTube. No registration needed!

Endnotes
1. A New European Agenda for Culture. Available at https://www.cultureinexternalrelations.eu/cier-data/uploads/2018/06/commission_communication_-_a_new_european_agenda_for_culture_2018.pdf
2. Programme for the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union. 1 January to 30 June 2021. Available at https://www.2021portugal.eu/media/e0rjnvdj/programme-for-the-portuguese-presidency-of-the-council-of-the-european-union-en.pdf
The Summit will be composed of seven panels, three moments of "Conversation with...", two keynote speeches, and several cultural breaks.
For the Opening Session we are honoured to have Manuel Heitor, Portuguese Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education, Graça Fonseca, Portuguese Minister for Culture, Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Michael Murphy, Chair of the European University Association, and António de Sousa Pereira, Rector of the University of Porto.



Keynote Speakers:



A Conversation with...



Hosts

Panels

Programme

Download Program

Day 1, March 29

From the Rector of the University of Porto, Portugal
António de Sousa Pereira

From the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union
Manuel Heitor, Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education
Graça Fonseca, Minister for Culture
From the Chair of the European University Association
Michael Murphy
From the European Commisioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth
Mariya Gabriel
Alberto Manguel, anthologist, translator, essayist, novelist and editor
10:10 - 10:20
Cultural break: Where we are

Paulo Pires do Vale, Commissioner of the National Plan for the Arts, Portugal
Fátima Vieira, Vice-Rector for Culture - University of Porto, Portugal
Elisa Ferreira, European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms
Chair: Fátima Vieira
It is essential that the higher education system does not replicate the social and economic inequalities that dominate the world outside academia. Higher education institutions must provide access to and raise awareness about the Arts to those who would not ordinarily visit museums or art exhibitions. They must also be responsible for introducing students to new worlds, aesthetic sensibilities and worldviews; and for creating spaces for artistic experimentation.
The Arts should not be seen as a supplement but as inherent to university training. Democratic access to higher education needs to go beyond providing students with equal opportunities for specialised training and include democratic access to the Arts. Only in this way will Europe be able to neutralise the social and economic drivers of inequality.


The objective of this panel is to map good practices of democratic access to heritage, artistic discourses and artistic experiences and identify the most important actors in the process.



Key questions:
1. What consistent cultural policies for generalised artistic projects in higher education institutions are being implemented across EU countries?
2. What instruments are being used for the implementation of those projects?
3. How are students’ encounters with contemporary artistic discourses being promoted?
4. What are the most prominent outcomes of those projects?
5. How are the projects being assessed?
Chair:
João Bettencourt Relvas, researcher in Neuroscience – University of Porto, Portugal
Speakers:
Ralph Dekoninck, Rector's advisor for cultural affairs – Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium

John Clammer, professor, sociologist, and author – Jindal School of Liberal Arts and Humanities, India

Carlinda Leite, Emeritus Professor, education sciences - University of Porto, Portugal

Artur Santos Silva, cultural administrator – Portugal

Ina Druviete, Vice-Rector of the Humanities and Educational Sciences – University of Latvia

Luís Ceríaco, biologist, historian of science, museologist – Museum of Natural History and Science, University of Porto, Portugal
12:10 - 13:10
Cultural break: The Porto Planetarium

Culture is the window through which we see the world and which frames our idea of development. It is the vision that binds us together – and it is part of the solution to the problems the EU is experiencing today.
Higher education institutions are spaces for growth where students’ potential is unlocked with the best learning and research opportunities. But they also need to be spaces of inspiration and enthusiasm for life in community, collaboration, celebration of diverse cultures and perspectives, and awareness that we are all connected and share responsibility for the society to which we belong.


The objective of this panel is to discuss how the Arts develop attention and empathy for the Other, fostering a cultural identity based on the appreciation for the diversity of the human experience.



Key questions:
1. What consistent cultural policies are being implemented to foster higher education students’ intercultural competences?
2. What instruments do we need to favour a polycentric cultural policy that does not overlook the art of the Other and that deconstructs the idea of the Other?
3. How can we enrich the ERASMUS + Exchange Programme with cultural and artistic activities?
4. How can higher education institutions assert themselves as spaces for the creation of peace narratives, capable of contradicting and replacing violent narratives of exclusion?
5. How can we integrate an accessibility policy into cultural policies?
Chair:
Rui Carvalho Homem, professor – University of Porto, Portugal
Speakers:
Madalena Victorino, choreographer and dance teacher – Portugal

Adessa Zadia, culture and education policy assistant – Erasmus Student Network, Brussels, Belgium

Ana Luísa Amaral, poet, essayist, professor - University of Porto, Portugal

Borna Nemet, human rights and solidarity coordinator – European Students’ Union, Zagreb, Croatia

Nuno Cardoso, artistic director

Alfredo Jaar, artist, architect, photographer and filmmaker

Susan Meiselas, documentary photographer

Lydia Matthews, critical writer, contemporary art curator, educator and cultural activist
14:30 - 14:40
Cultural break: Meet the curators of the MHNC-UP

Daniel Innerarity, professor, philosopher, and essayist – University of the Basque Country, Spain
Chair: Paulo Pires do Vale
The cultural ambition of the University cannot be separated from its scientific and technological endeavours. Cultural policies need to be transversal to training and research policies, embracing the problems science and technologies are trying to solve. The integration of different tools offered by both science and the arts, as well as the variety of methods they gather, is indispensable for the production of new and significant knowledge.
On the one hand, this panel acknowledges the Arts’ capacity to transform society, train reflexive and critical minds, and infuse scientific and technological training with the conviction that there is always another way of looking at things and awareness of the ethical limits imposed on scientific freedom. On the other hand, it declares the urgency of providing students with a scientific culture based on evidence and basic knowledge of disparate disciplines’ findings.


The objective of the panel is to discuss the benefits of promoting, at higher education institutions, a culture at once scientific and artistic - a common creative culture.



Key questions:
1. How can the arts advance science?
2. How can culture promote a transdisciplinary vision of knowledge?
3. How can we get students interested in peripheral knowledge?
4. How can the arts contribute to solving problems science and technology are dealing with, such as the causes and consequences of climate change or the pandemic situation we are experiencing today?
5. How can the arts contribute to the preservation of scientific and technological heritage?
Chair:
Peter Hanenberg, Vice-Rector for Research and Innovation – Universidade Católica Portuguesa
Speakers:
Renato Janine Ribeiro, professor, political scientist, author – University of São Paulo, Brazil

Rosalia Vargas, President of Ciência Viva – National Agency for Scientific and Technological Culture, Portugal

Angelos Angalianos, Senior Policy Officer – European Commission, Brussels, Belgium

Paola Spinozzi, professor – University of Ferrara, Italy

Pedro Rodrigues, Vice-Rector for Research, Internationalization and Innovation – University of Porto, Portugal

Miguel Januário, intervention artist – Portugal

Day 2, March 30

The integration of the Arts into higher education study plans, fully accredited by competent bodies, contributes to enhancing the value of artistic education on campus and grants students the opportunity to develop cognitive capacities, self-confidence and motivation. Exposure to contemporary artistic discourses, in particular, offers an opening through which students may discover how they connect to the world.
A consistent cultural policy requires systematic planning in keeping with a well-defined social project. It entails the definition of transversal topics, common practices, and evaluation procedures. The window to the implementation of such a programme was opened by the European Commission, when it pledged to “promote music and the arts in education and training, including as a priority theme in Erasmus+ (2019), and promote the development of creativity oriented interdisciplinary modules in higher education institutions, combining arts, information and communication technology, entrepreneurial and business skills (2018)”. 3


The objective of this panel is to discuss how a project of generalised artistic education for higher education students may be established, what goals to set, and what assessment tools to define.



Key questions:
1. What tools are needed for the implementation of a generalised programme of artistic education across EU countries, duly accredited and integrated into higher education study plans?
2. How can we get the students interested in artistic experiences?
3. What transversal topics should be defined?
4. What immediate and long-term goals are to be set?
5. How can we monitor the impact of a programme of generalised artistic education on students’ academic and professional lives?
Chair:
Inês Câmara, Executive Committee member of Culture Action Europe
Speakers:
Fernando Leon Garcia, President-elect of the International Association of University Presidents

Marija Valentina Žuvić, Vice President of Network & Internal Affairs Director – AEGEE, European Students’ Forum, Brussels, Belgium

Jennifer Wagner-Lawlor, professor and author – Penn State University, USA

Peter Marks, professor and author – University of Sidney, Australia

Alexandra Sá Costa, professor and researcher in Education – University of Porto, Portugal
Endnotes
3. A New European Agenda for Culture, p. 6.
10:20 - 10:30
Cultural break: The Ferreira da Silva Laboratory
– a virtual tour

Rui Moreira, Mayor of the City of Porto, Portugal
Chair: Miguel Sousa Tavares, journalist and author – Portugal
University museums and other scientific, technological and cultural heritage organisations that belong to higher education institutions provide us with stories that are central to human life. These narratives bear witness to our interaction with the world and to scientific imaginaries that ultimately affect social imaginaries.
It is time we go back to the idea of the museum as a public institution of knowledge, a rich source of resources and information, but also assert it as a platform for social innovation: museums may be used to celebrate diverse cultures and to promote a positive view on the relationship between humankind and nature that may go beyond the anthropocenic perspective. It is imperative that museums become part of life on campus, spaces of encounter simultaneously meant for learning, free movement of ideas and scientific and social imaginaries. On the other hand, it is required that museums share their collections online with open access, consistently contributing to the digital transformation of our society and strengthening the EU’s democratic policies.


The objective of this panel is to discuss the role museums may play in the creation of a greener and more inclusive Union and the digital acceleration of our society.



Key questions:
1. How can we put museums at the heart of the University?
2. How can museums contribute to fostering students’ scientific culture?
3. How can we assert higher education museums as spaces that promote a positive relationship between human beings and with nature?
4. What instruments do we need to preserve and fuel the dialogue between science, art and culture in higher education institutions?
5. How can museums contribute to the digital acceleration of our society?
Chair:
Nuno Ferrand, Director of the BIOPOLIS Association
Speakers:
Paul Smith, Director of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, UK

Anna Omedes, Director of the Natural Science Museum of Barcelona – Barcelona, Spain

Nuno Faria, Director of the City Museum – Porto, Portugal

Annelore Scholten, Head of Public Engagement, Education and Exhibitions – Museum Boerhaave, Leiden, Netherlands

Philippe Vergne, Director of the Serralves Contemporary Art Museum, Porto, Portugal

Clara Camacho, Directorate-General for Cultural Heritage – Porto, Portugal

Margaret McColl, Senior Lecturer in Museum Education and Art Education - University of Glasgow, UK
12:00 - 13:00
Cultural break: Curiosities of the MHNC-UP
& Porto’s Botanical Garden – a virtual tour

The University is a space of constant scientific innovation and knowledge diffusion – and it is already one of the most important economic drivers of regional development. Implementing a consistent plan for culture across the EU will enable higher education institutions to strengthen links with society and offer role models to the community. It is time we relocalise the arts in their relation with the idea of development, acknowledging them as an essential driver for the regeneration process of cities and the creation of vibrant communities.
The innovation plan in discussion here entails promoting constant dialogue with local institutions, fine-tuning social and cultural values, and prioritising the problems that afflict the communities. This process will enhance students’ feelings of identity and belonging, on the one hand, and involve the community in students’ training, on the other.


The objective of this panel is to discuss the implementation process of a cultural agenda for higher education institutions that involves local institutions, contributes to the regeneration of cities and communities, and develops feelings of belonging.



Key questions:
1. What partners should be involved in the process?
2. How can we stimulate their interest and guarantee their active engagement?
3. How can we ensure the sustainability of a long-term plan?
4. How can we fine-tune values and define pressing problems?
5. What goals and assessment tools can be established?
Chair:
José Soares Neves, Director of the Portuguese Observatory on Cultural Activities, Portugal
Speakers:
Pier Luigi Sacco, Special Adviser of the European Commissioner for Education and Culture – European Commission, Brussels, Belgium

Mariachiara Esposito, Seconded National Expert – European Commission, Brussels, Belgium

Nuno Crespo, Director of the School of Arts – Universidade Católica Portuguesa

Tina Delva, Deputy Head of Unit, Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture – European Commission, Brussels, Belgium

Nuno Jardim Nunes, President of the Interactive Technologies Institute – Técnico, University of Lisbon, Portugal

Louise Coysh, Associate Director, Arts & Culture – University of Southampton, UK

João Teixeira Lopes, President of the Portuguese Association of Sociology
14:20 - 14:30
Cultural break: Welcome to the Rectorate of the U. Porto

The number of higher education students experiencing mental health problems and social isolation issues has been a growing concern – a situation severely aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Providing students with consistent opportunities to encounter artistic discourses and experience artistic practices may well be part of the solution to the problem.
Artistic experiences trigger strong emotions and cognitive reactions; they change the perception of illness and of one’s body; and foster a sense of freedom, inclusion and belonging, thickening cultural identities and inspiring the imagination and articulation of alternative stories, thus breaking with exclusion narratives.


The objective of this panel is to discuss how a generalised plan for the promotion of artistic encounters and experiences across EU higher education institutions would affect the health and wellbeing of academic communities and society at large.



Key questions:
1. Do participatory artistic experiences have proven therapeutic effects?
2. Does non-participatory attendance to cultural events have significantly different effects on one’s health and wellbeing?
3. Are some arts more likely to have beneficial effects than others?
4. What experiences have been implemented in higher education settings?
5. How could these experiences be articulated with the local communities?
Chair:
Isabel Menezes, Chair of the Portuguese Society for Education Sciences
Speakers:
Fernando Mencarelli, Director of the Programme for Cultural Action – Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil

Frank Finlay, Dean of Cultural Engagement – University of Leeds, UK

Ryan Pillay, Deputy-Director of Arts, Culture and Heritage – Nelson Mandela University, South Africa

José Castro Lopes, Pro-Rector for Social Responsibility and Support, Health and Wellbeing – University of Porto, Portugal

Rosemary Deem, Professor of Higher Education Management ? Royal Holloway, University of London

Vera Dickman, Interculturality Coordinator and Associate Professor ? Université Paris-Saclay
15:50 - 16:00
Cultural break: Meet the curators of the MHNC-UP

Jane Pickering, Director of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology – Harvard University, USA
Chair: Fátima Vieira
Manuel Heitor, Portuguese Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education
Graça Fonseca, Portuguese Minister for Culture

Organization:
Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union
University of Porto, Portugal
National Plan for the Arts, Portugal

Contact: university.and.culture@reit.up.pt

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This Summit will be transmitted on this platform, as well as on YouTube. No registration needed!

Contacts

University and Culture Summit
Praça de Gomes Teixeira
4099-002 Porto, Portugal
E-mail: university.and.culture@reit.up.pt