Worker cooperatives have become a compelling alternative to traditional labor-management forms of labor relations in the 21st century and with the rise of the Global Financial Crisis. The class examines worker control and cooperative in comparative historical and geographic perspective. We will examine the historical experiences of worker cooperatives throughout the world, their successes, and challenges. The class will make use of readings, film, and guest speakers with expertise in worker control and cooperatives.
The class interrogates and analyzes key questions of worker self management and worker control, including:
The viability of worker control in the capitalist state. How worker cooperatives survive under the norms and principles of capitalism? State and government treatment of worker cooperatives compared to privately-held firms. The evolution of worker-owned enterprises in comparative perspective.
Worker interest and concrete efforts to establish cooperatives Do workers seek worker cooperatives? What is the historical legacy and when do private/state owned enterprises transform into cooperatives? What are the obstacles?
The benefits and advantages of worker cooperatives to workers, communities, consumers, the political economy, and sustainable ecological development. The class also examines the growing interest of workers in worker control models and the rise of experiments and concrete cases that are now underway.
Worker cooperatives and labor unions. We utilize historical and contemporary works on worker control and cooperatives to understand their relationship with labor unions to understand the possible necessity of union representation even in a collectively-owned enterprise.
In line with MIT's leadership in freely giving access to its educational information, the "repository of resources from the Fall 2010 student-driven reading group on worker-owned cooperatives, housed within MIT’s Community Innovators Lab (CoLab)" is online.The student group inspired an upcoming course: "This spring, Professor J.
Cooperatives and Community Development Education for Ownership
SYLLABUS: EDUCATION 187
Social and Cultural Studies, UC Berkeley
Instructor: Deb Goldberg Gray
Cooperatives and Community Development Education for Ownership will explore the critical role of education in creating member-owned, democratically-controlled organizations. The course will survey cooperative development strategies which strengthen communities, create economic opportunity and provide needed services.
Students will engage in active discussion and analysis of weekly topics, informed by readings, presented material and their own life experiences. Two short writing assignments will assist students in defining their pemona1 views on the subject matter. In addition, students will form work groups to identify and carry out a cooperative feasibility and planning project. These groups will work together the entire semester, and discuss their findings in both written and oral form at the end of the term. Students who come up with viable proposals will be offered the option to implement their plans in future semesters.
This course will focus on development of informed analytical skills with real life application on the part of students. Students will have the opportunity to learn from current practitioners with critical expertise in the field, who will be invited as guest speaker.
Readings and Class Participation - Come prepared to actively participate in a critical analysis of the week's topic, informed by thoughtful consideration of the assigned readings. (30% of grade.)
Papers 2 short papers (2-3 pages) reflecting personal responses to the topic. (10% of grade)
Group Project Small groups will select an area for cooperative feasibility analysis and planning. Groups will present their findings in writing and through classroom presentation and discussion. (30% of grade)
Midterm and Final Exams Exams will require students to draw on their knowledge from lectures and readings, and apply the analytical skills gained through class discussion and feasibility projects. (30% of grade)