Inspiring co-operative enterprise through education

International Year of Co-operatives

Democratic Enterprise

We've been engaged in a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with the University of Aberdeen for the past 2 years and it came to a successful conclusion on 13 June 2012. One of the main outputs of the project was an undergraduate textbook. Democratic Enterprise provides an introductory-level analysis of democratic models of enterprise, namely co-operatives and employee-owned businesses. A supplement to any course that deals with these topics, it also stands alone as a template for academics who wish to incorporate material on democratic models of enterprise into courses relating to economics, business studies, sustainable development, enterprise, and organisational theory and behaviour.

New Lanark


Over 100 kids, 8 workshops, 5 speakers, and an awards ceremony; the madness that was our annual event is now over. Set in the New Lanark World Heritage Centre, home to Robert Owen’s social initiatives, we were joined by over 100 educators, students, practitioners and co-operators to celebrate co-operative education in Scotland. It quickly became apparent that co-operative education takes many forms, including:

  • A pupil-run fairtrade co-operative serving up delicious treats to primary students ;
  • A young co-operative that donates its profits to an impoverished school in South Africa ;
  • A cohort of pupils successfully completing ASDAN awards in Co-operative Studies; and
  • A secondary-school in Ayrshire working towards becoming a 'co-operative school'.

A more detailed account of the day can be found on our blog.

Aberdeen Event

In collaboration with the University of Aberdeen and The Co-operative Group Membership (Grampian Committee), we hosted an event on 22-23 May 2012 examining the sustainability of co-operatives. One of the outputs of the conference was a film aimed at encouraging young people to get involved in co-operatives: Join the Co-op Future.

Lennoxtown/St Machans Project 200 Years

2012 saw the small Glasgow town of Lennoxtown celebrate 200 years of co-operation. Established in 1812 (making it one of the oldest co-operatives in the world), the Lennoxtown Friendly Victualling Society has survived for 200 years in various guises and is now a Co-operative Food store. The two local primaries, St Machans and Lennoxtown, have engaged with CETS and the local Group food store to explore the co-operative history of their town.

Co-ops are good for you

We were pleased to play host to a one-day event held in Scottish Enterprise’s HQ in Haymarket, Edinburgh on the 8 May 2012. A small group of co-operators discussed emerging research linking co-operatives, in particular those that are employee-owned, with wider public benefits, especially in relation to health. The aim of the event, besides being a useful networking opportunity for individuals geographically distant, was to produce a consensus on the role co-ops can play in providing public benefit. A full account of the event can be found on our blog.

Alecop Student Co-operative

Thanks to support from Co-operatives UK and funding from the Scottish Memorial Trust, we have jus initiated a project to establish a university-student co-operative. Based on a similar enterprise in Mondragón, the co-op will provide work for student members during their time in higher education. We are working with a number of universities to identify interested students and hope to begin this project in July 2012.

Co-operate App

This Co-operatives Fortnight, the first UK co-operative sector mobile app will be released. Download Co-operate at 12 noon on 19 June to push Co-operate up the listings and reach a wider audience. Co-operate makes it easy for people to find co-operatives and mutuals across the UK. Whether they need food or phones, electricity or banking, Co-operate allows customers to download a better world on to their mobile phone.

Co-operative Film Festival

The Co-operative Film Festival is a non-competitive and not-for-profit youth initiative run by The Co-operative to encourage young people to co-operate, develop creativity and express themselves. It is one of the longest running film festivals in the country and a huge celebration of young people’s creative film-making! It’s been going for a massive 46 years, which means we’ve been showing films made by young people for nearly half a century.