When in Italy, in the city that lent its name to the so-called Bologna Process, the university was created (1088), in the territory that would become Portugal, there was already not a university, but a private school functioning, with its respective master, to teach the students who wanted to attend the School of the Chapter, nestled next to the Cathedral of Braga. This reference would be unnecessary here if we did not consider two facts:
- That it is in the tradition of that school, in the distant year of 1072 (or even before), that the Faculty of Philosophy and Social Sciences, as the natural continuation of the Faculty of Philosophy, stands;
- That it was precisely this (latter) school that was the first non-state higher education institution to confer bachelor's and doctoral degrees in Portugal.
Resulting from a process of restructuring of two Faculties of the Braga Regional Center, the Faculty of Philosophy and the Faculty of Social Sciences, the history of the Faculty of Philosophy and Social Sciences (FFCS), therefore, first of all, is confused with part of the history of the former itself. In fact, the Faculty of Philosophy, as a work of the Society of Jesus, is indelibly associated not only to the presence of the Jesuits in Portugal, but also to their vocation for teaching.
Arriving in Portugal in 1540, the first Jesuits, Simão Rodrigues and St. Francis Xavier, soon began public classes at the Santo Antão College in Lisbon, where they dedicated themselves to the human and Christian formation of Portuguese youth.
In 1543, they received from King John III a house in Coimbra, destined for the studies of young Jesuits; shortly after, the same king gave them the College of the Arts..
In 1559, the University of Évora was offered to them by Cardinal D. Henrique, the same who, still Archbishop of Braga, had tried to build a college for the Society of Jesus. But it was the famous Blessed D. Frei Bartolomeu dos Mártires who, in 1563, "founded" for them the College of St. Paul. Braga thus enters the tradition of colleges run by Portuguese Jesuits.
When they were expelled from Portugal in 1759, they were running 28 secondary schools in Portugal and the University of Evora.
The College of St. Paul, in Braga, had as its first Rector Blessed Inácio de Azevedo. For 196 years, the College of St. Paul was the main center of education for the youth of Braga: with more than two thousand students enrolled in various years, the College was distinguished by the high level of its studies (it was even requested the collation of degrees), and acquired the privilege of academic dress and acts, with certain regalities or customs of the university forum.
The Jesuits returned to Braga in 1875. This time, they dedicated themselves more to the apostolate than to teaching. But when, after the expulsion in 1910, they returned to Braga, in 1934, they established the Beato Miguel de Carvalho Institute for the study of Philosophy at Rua de S. Barnabé.
In 1942, the Philosophy studies here taught are declared by the Ministry of Education "Superior Course of Philosophical Sciences". In 1947, the Institute is elevated to a Pontifical Faculty and, in 1967, this same Faculty is declared, by the decree Lusitanorum nobilissima gens, of October 13, 1967, the Faculty of Philosophy of the Portuguese Catholic University. It was the first Faculty of the new Catholic University, which, in 1968, continued its expansion with the Faculty of Theology in Lisbon.
Over time, the Faculty of Philosophy widened the range of basic training, in Philosophy and Humanities, to the areas of Business Development, Psychology, Communication Sciences, Arts and Documentary Sciences. Thus, when in 2001 the Faculty of Social Sciences is created, as part of a set of three Organic Units - which in the meantime would be administratively integrated in the Braga Regional Center - to the training offer already existing in the Faculty of Philosophy and in the Faculty of Theology, Social Work, Information and Communication Technologies, Education Sciences and, more recently, Tourism, Heritage and Design are added.
In compliance with the determination of the Board of Governors of January 18, 2013, the Strategic Reflection Group for the restructuring of the Braga Regional Center was formed, consisting of the Vice-Rectors, Professors Isabel Capeloa Gil and José Tolentino de Mendonça, the President of the Braga Regional Center, Professor João Duque, and Professors Joaquim Azevedo, Miguel Gonçalves, Sérgio Tenreiro de Magalhães, Luísa Leal de Faria and Alfredo Dinis.
With preparatory work presented in the summer of 2013, however, it was only following the appointment by the Board of Governors in May 2014 of a CRBr Monitoring Committee, and from the formation of a local working group, the "CRBr Restructuring Committee," that the model to follow would take true shape (or at least more defined contours).
Profs. Luísa Leal de Faria, Carvalho Guerra, João Duque and Dr. Helena Brissos were members of the Monitoring Committee of the CRBr; Profs. Doctors João Duque, President of the CRBr and representative of the Monitoring Commission; Miguel Gonçalves, Augusto Soares da Silva and Carlos Morais, of the Direction of the Faculty of Philosophy; José Carlos Miranda, Alexandra Esteves and Sérgio Magalhães Tenreiro, of the Direction of the Faculty of Social Sciences; Isabel Varanda, of the Direction of the Faculty of Theology; José Manuel Martins Lopes SJ, representative of the Society of Jesus; and João Alberto Correia, representative of the Archdiocese of Braga.
Welcomed by the CRBr Supervisory Commission, the Rector's Office and the Society of Jesus, it would be based on this model that the Superior Council of the UCP would unanimously approve, on January 16, 2015, the merger of the two Teaching Units, through the creation of the Faculty of Philosophy and Social Sciences - taking into account the scientific proximity of the areas of the two faculties and "the advantage of the unification of efforts and resources, in the face of the strong challenges of internationalization and the provision of services to the region."
In the meantime, a transitional Board of Directors was appointed by the rectoral order of February 18, 2015 (to, among other tasks, "direct and monitor the process of daily management of the two faculties with a view to the creation of the Faculty of Philosophy and Social Sciences"), by Decree MC-07/2015 of the Great Chancellor of the Catholic University of Portugal and Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon, the Faculty of Philosophy and Social Sciences was established in Braga on June 1, 2015, and its Director and the Board of Directors took office, in a public act, on the 5th of the same month.