Panel D.01 — Co-operation, education and social justice

Convenors Tom Woodin (UCL, United Kingdom); Cath Gristy (University of Plymouth)

Keywords Co-operation, education, social justice, values, learning


Co-operation and education have a long affinity in terms of scholars, activists and schools. Co-operative movements have been places of learning and they have also formed schools, colleges and acted as pioneers in developing new forms of learning. Co-operatives have been embedded in the historical development of societies and played a role in the emergence of democracy and civil society. They have often been described as part of a silent or peaceful revolution representing a long process of social change over the past two centuries and more. Co-operatives were also tied into political and social change including the process of decolonialisation and the Cold War. Out of the diverse range of practices, the International Co-operative Alliance produced a Statement on Co-operative Identity which centres on the co-operative values of democracy, equity, equality, solidarity, self-help and self-responsibility. Membership is a crucial aspect of co-operatives along with education and training. It is our contention that we have must to learn from and adapt from the past in thinking about co-operative and democratic futures.

There are diverse co-operative movements and traditions that have emerged across the world as well as a range of types of co-operative that include consumer and producer movements as well as social co-operatives and hybrid models that have been applied to existing social and economic practices. Different national experiences reveal diverse aspects of the interconnection between co-operation and education. This includes the influences of Celestin Freinet in France, Italy, Spain, Brazil and other countries where co-operative schooling proliferated. In Spain co-operatively owned schools emerged as did the Mondragon University in the Basque Country; in France co-operative organisations influence primary education; school co-operatives have been significant in Poland; co-operative education may cluster in certain regions and areas such as Trento in Italy or Switzerland. From the early twenty first century, there was a growth of co-operative schools in England which adapted models from the co-operative movement to think about the form of schools and schooling (Woodin and Gristy 2022). Moreover, while some traditional co-operative movements have declined, many new informal co-operative structures have emerged, such as platform co-operatives as well as the widespread interest in the commons. Each of these areas helps us to re-think how co-operation might invigorate co-operative democratic practices.

We invite abstracts which outline actually existing practices, historical developments and future thinking pieces which address the focus of the conference in relation to social justice and might include the following:

The relationship between co-operatives and democratic learning.

How co-operative models and values have influenced the formation of schools and other institutions and practices of learning?

Experiences and possibilities of co-operative pedagogies.

Regional, national and international influences in co-operative educational practices.


Guidelines and abstracts submission