Lifelong learning offers hope in a world threatened by conflict, the Portuguese scholar Ana Costa Freitas says.
“Focusing on profit is not sustainable and actually causes all the wars we have in the world,” she told Al-Fanar Media. “Sharing our knowledge is essential. We are no longer part of a country or a continent, so we have to go global.”
A former advisor to the European Commission, Costa Freitas has been rector of the University of Evora in southern Portugal since 2014.
In the interview, she talked about the importance of research, the impact of Covid-19 on higher education, the need to revert from online to face-to-face teaching, and refugees, among other matters.
With a bachelor’s degree in agronomy and a Ph.D. in biotechnology, Costa Freitas taught chemistry for 18 years at Nova University Lisbon and then at her alma mater, the University of Evora. In 2006, she became the university’s vice-rector, but in 2010 she joined the outreach team of the Bureau of European Policy Advisers, in Brussels.
“As a vice-rector, I did some research and finished my papers in Brussels,” she said. “However, being a rector in Portugal is very demanding and does affect one’s ability to conduct research. In a small regional university, a rector must be involved in all its issues. This affects one’s mind-set and hinders your focus on research.”
Small, Internationally-Connected University
The University of Evora focuses on four main areas: agricultural sustainability and biodiversity; heritage and art; aerospace and digital transformation; and health and well-being.