Policy, principles, and practice: co-operative studies in higher education

Diarmuid Padraig McDonnell, Elizabeth Chalmers Macknight

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Co-operatives contribute to national and local economies in virtually every country by championing an ethical approach to business underpinned by internationally agreed values and principles. Yet despite the wide-ranging successes of co-operatives, in financial terms as well as in the development of sustainable communities, the study of these democratic forms of enterprise remains surprisingly absent from the curricula of most university business schools around the world.

How might interest from politicians and policy-makers in the socio-economic benefits of co-operation be leveraged to support the growth of co-operative studies in higher education? To what extent is the academic community willing or able to integrate teaching and research about co-operatives into undergraduate and postgraduate programmes? What are the main barriers to and opportunities for the development of co-operative studies at the tertiary level?

This paper presents the thinking behind the establishment of an innovative partnership between the Co-operative Education Trust Scotland and the University of Aberdeen designed to embed co-operative, mutual, and employee-owned models of enterprise into tertiary curricula. It explains the strategic context for the partnership and the practical and intellectual challenges encountered in putting the co-operative principle of education, training and information into practice within the university setting.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCo-operation, Learning and Co-operative Values
Subtitle of host publicationContemporary Issues in Education
EditorsTom Woodin
ISBN (Print)978-0-415-72524-8, 978-0-415-72523-1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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