Rafael Argullol inaugurates the 2017-2018 academic year with a lesson on the concepts of freedom and enigma

Rafael Argullol inaugurates the 2017-2018 academic year with a lesson on the concepts of freedom and enigma

The ceremony, held at noon in the auditorium of the Ciutadella campus, kicked off the 2017-2018 academic year. Presided over by the UPF rector, Jaume Casals, also in attendance were Arcadi Navarro, secretary for Universities and Research, and Núria Basi, president of the UPF Board of Trustees.


“Freedom and enigma in three acts” is the title of the inaugural lecture given by Rafael Argullol, full professor of Aesthetics and Theory of Art at UPF’s Department of Humanities, in the course of the inauguration of the 2017-2018 academic year.

The ceremony, broadcast live via the institutional website and covered by social media (#InauguracioUPF) was held today, Monday 9 October at noon in the auditorium of the Ciutadella campus, and was presided over by Jaume Casals, UPF rector.

Also in attendance were Arcadi Navarro, secretary for Universities and Research of the Ministry of Enterprise and Knowledge of the Government (Generalitat) of Catalonia, and Núria Basi, president of the Board of Trustees of the University.

The event started with a welcome speech by Jaume Casals followed by the screening of the 2016-2017 academic year video report of the University. It includes a review of the main milestones achieved in the areas of teaching, research and transfer, institutional outreach and the University community.

Video report of the 2016-2017 academic year

Then, Rafael Argullol undertook the inaugural lesson entitled “Freedom and enigma in three acts”. The rector introduced him as being a person who helps to imbue humanities in all sectors and at all levels of the University.

Inaugural lecture by Rafael Argullol

Inaugural lecture in full in pdf. (in catalan)

Abans de començar la lliçó, Argullol ha explicat que ha estat temptat de no parlar “després dels dies tristos que hem viscut”. Però he decidit que sí que valia la pena parlar perquè “la universitat no és només un lloc per transmetre coneixements, sinó un lloc per ajudar a crear éssers lliures”

Excerpts from the lecture

“Personal freedom involves inseminating oneself in contradiction and metamorphosis, in contemplation and action”

“I think that freedom and enigma are inseparable partners in the co­urse of human existence. Enigma means literally what is veiled and what is revealed at the same time. To be free is to seek to be free, it is to traverse the successive veils that we are presented with within us knowing that, once traversed, new veils will present themselves”

“Freedom is an adventure. It is probably the great adventure of exist­ence. Difficult, full of dangers, complex. But it’s worth experien­cing because, thanks to it, we become human beings”


Awarding of prizes by the Board of Trustees

After the inaugural lecture came the awarding of the UPF Board of Trustees prizes by Núria Basi, its president. They are granted for quality in teaching; knowledge transfer; initiative and innovation in administration and services, and finally, the winners of the fourth edition of the University Social Responsibility Projects Competition, promoted jointly with the vice-rector’s office responsible for the management of projects for engagement equality. The winning project of the latter award was “Escola Drassanes and UPF: inclusive excellence in primary school”, by a team comprising a score of UPF lecturers, students and administrative and services staff.

The ceremony continued with a block of speeches by the authorities, begun by Núria Basi, president of the UPF Board of Trustees.

Speech by Núria Basi

> Speech in full in pdf. (in catalan)

Excerpts from the speech

“I deeply regret the grave incidents of 1 October, on which the Catalan society was forced to be a victim and a witness of extreme violence. More than ever, from the University and society, we have to continue working towards the best future for the country, based on the values that are intrinsic to wisdom”

“The achievements of UPF [...] can be summarized in the prowess of having gained a reputation over more than two decades and making it grow every year

“Our universities have added talent and effort to build a good team and a major national project”

“Our universities have yet to improve in their proximity and engagement with the socio-economic environment, [...] have greater autonomy, [...] a new system of university governance [...] and solve financing and generational replacement”


Speech by Arcadi Navarro

The secretary for Universities and Research also began his speech recalling the political context that Catalonia is currently experiencing: “This week we have seen undesirable images of violence and repression against people who just wanted to vote”. And he asserted that “there is a need to negotiate and respond to the expression of the will of a respectful, civic and peaceful people”.

He cited the universities as an example of institutions of reference in Catalonia because “we have only our ingenuity to build a better world”, and he recalled that they are the most highly valued institutions by Catalan citizens, “a key element for the future of the country”.

Navarro affirmed that UPF is one of the most outstanding universities in the system using a football analogy: UPF is the Messi of Catalan universities, small and very good”. It has highlighted its ability to put itself in a prominent place on a global level in very few years of existence.

He also remarked that “Catalonia has the most powerful university system in southern Europe”, with one of the highest proportions of students at universities that are among the top 100 of the continent. And he advocated the construction of a more equitable university, “giving even more facilities to lower income students”.

Finally, he underlined that “universities are a driving force of dynamism and are part of the structures of the state to increase social welfare”. 


Speech by the rector, Jaume Casals

> Speech in full in pdf. (in catalan)

Excerpts from the speech

“Verses that [...] echo the unbearable rhetoric and the sophisms of the brambles in which we are entangled these days, to which I dedicate this, let’s say, semi silence. A semi silence that contains, inevitably, a ‘long live UPF!’ and a ‘long live Catalonia!’”

“The members of the board of management, vice-rectors, commissioners and UCA directors have their specific and precise projects, unthinkable in our previous set up, and more exciting than ever before. We will inform you of them shortly”

“My projects for the whole of UPF, as I said, are two: a general impregnation of humanistic culture of all our academic fields and the definition of the university in the environment of an emblem of world interest (such as, for example, health, global, climate change, the creation of synthetic living materials, or the optimization of European political and economic model)”

Finally, Jaume Casals ended his speech by declaring the 2017-2018 academic year open and the UPF Choir sang the traditional university song Gaudeamus Igitur.



University professor and prolific writer who cultivates various genres

Rafael Argullol (Barcelona, 1949), narrator, poet and essayist, is the author of over thirty books in different fields of literature and works pertaining to cross-cutting writing.  He is a professor with the Department of Humanities and a member of the Bibliotheca Mystica et Philosophica Alois M. Haas research group at UPF. He was the director of the UPF University Institute of Culture (IUC) between 2002 and 2008.

He studied Philosophy, Economics and Information Sciences at the University of Barcelona. He has also been trained at the University of Rome, the Warburg Institute in London, and the Free University of Berlin, and obtained his PhD in Philosophy (1979) in his town of birth. He has taught in European and American universities, including UC Berkeley.

He is a regular contributor to newspapers and magazines, and has often linked his role as a traveller with his literary aesthetics and has been involved in various theatre and film projects, in addition to lecturing around the world.

He won the Nadal Award for his novel La razón del mal (1993), the Assaig de Fons de Cultura Econòmica Prize for Una educación sensorial (2002) and the Cálamo  (2010) and Ciutat de Barcelona (2010) with Visión desde el fondo del mar. His latest works are Tratado erótico-filosófico (2016), Mi Gaudí espectral, Una narración (2015) and Pasión del dios que quiso ser hombre (2014).


The inaugural poster for the 2017-2018 academic year is the work of Jaume Plensa

Jaume Plensa, using pencil on paper, is the author of the inaugural poster for the 2017-2018 academic year, which will be added to the UPF Art Track catalogue. Eduard Cairol, professor with the Department of Humanities at UPF and connoisseur of the author’s work, referring to the poster said: “Father of androgynous creatures, Plensa now gifts us a child or a new-born, or who knows if -going even further back- a foetus”.... “Enigmatic, evocative, universally comprehensible/incomprehensible: magnetic. Like the great mythical images. Eloquence and mystery, retraction”... “Deep without falling into distillation, persuasive without sinning with dogmatism. And always with the touch of freshness and audacity, with a degree of a child’s irreverence. An eternal child”....

Jaume Plensa (Barcelona, ​​1955) currently lives between Barcelona and Paris, and has his studio in Sant Feliu de Llobregat.  He trained at the La LLotja School of Art and Design and at the San Jordi School of Fine Arts his town of birth. In 1980, after his first exhibition in Barcelona, he started to get a name for himself. Since then he has lived and worked in countries such as Germany, Belgium, England and France. He has been a professor at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris and regularly collaborates with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago as a visiting professor.

He is best known for his large sculptures consisting of letters and numbers, but also works with other materials such as cast iron, polyester, glass fibre, alabaster and wood. His works have been exhibited in numerous galleries and museums around the world, especially in Europe, the USA and Japan. In parallel to his sculptural projects, he has performed works on paper, drawings and collages.

Much of his career has been devoted to sculpture for public spaces, and so his work can be found in cities around the world. Some of his most brilliant creations are “The Crown Fountain” (2004) in the Millennium Park in Chicago, the project “Breathing” (2005) for the BBC in London, “World Voices” (2010) in Dubai, or “Carmela” (2015) in Barcelona.

He has earned numerous awards and distinctions, including the Medaille des Chevaliers des Arts et Lettres (1993), the Atelier Calder Foundation Award (1996), the National Plastic Arts award of the Government of Catalonia (1997), the Nacional de Bellas Artes (2012), the Saint George’s Cross (2012), National Plastic Arts (2012), the Velázquez for Visual Arts (2013), and the National Graphic Arts (2013) and the Global Fine Art award for the best outdoor installation (2015) and the Ciutat de Barcelona for International Outreach (2015). In 2005 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the School of Art Institute of Chicago.

Vídeo of the opening ceremony of the 2017-2018 course