MIT CoLab Cooperatives Course Materials Available

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. Phil Thompson will teach a course entitled “Democratic Wealth Generation.”  The first class will meet on Monday, 2/7, from 5-8p." 


Update: this material is appears to no longer be available to the public, 8/2011. 


Here are the material from last year's course copied from the MIT archive.  


Download the Syllabus – Updated 9/23/10


This section contains resources (lecture notes, readings, links, organizations, etc) from these sessions:


General: Overview and general resources on cooperative development


  1. 10/20/2010 - What? (Ang Hadwin, Jeffrey Juarez)


Some background on what a cooperative is, history, and different types of cooperatives.


Some interesting and informative videos online:


  1. 10/27/2010 - Why? (Why a coop vs. any other model?) (Carlos Espinoza)


Why choose a cooperative business model?

Class Facilitator: Carlos Espinoza

Guest Speaker: Ted Howard, Evergreen Cooperatives, Cincinnati, Ohio

Class Presentation: Why Cooperatives

Class Notes: Download Notes

Class Video Notes: Download Video Notes


  1. 11/3/2010 - How? Start Up, Legal Structure (Elijah Hutchinson)


Legal Issues for Cooperatives – Class Presentation

US Federation of Worker Cooperatives – Toolbox

US Federation of Worker Cooperatives  – Start Up

ICA Model Bylaws

Jenny Kassan Resources, Katovitch Law Group

Ed DeBarbieri recommended reading: JCS April 2009

Ed DeBarbieri recommended reading: CherryLLC Low Wage Immigrant Women Workers

Ed DeBarbieri recommended reading: Cummings_Developing Cooperatives


  1. 11/10/2010 - How? Business Plan, Financial Structure (Stefanie Ritoper)


Student Facilitator: Stefanie Ritoper

Guest Speaker: Newell Lessell, ICA Group

November 10, 2010, 7-9p


Required Reading

Read Chapter 7: “Cooperative Financial Management” and Chapter 8: “Procedures for organizing a cooperative” (Page 59 to 74), in:

Cooperatives: Principles and Practices in the 21st Century (2004)


Additional Resources

Planning for Perpetuity (26-34) and Business Management (35-44), in:

Worker Cooperative Toolbox. In Good Company: A Guide to Employee Ownership (2006)

ICA Group.  Feasibility Study for Commercial Cleaning Cooperative in Washington, D.C.. (2003)

ICA Group.  Feasibility Study for Win-Win Cleaning, Inc (2003)

Adams, Frank T. and Gary B. Hansen.  Putting democracy to work : a practical guide for starting and managing worker-owned businesses (1994)

Chapter 3: “Making a Preliminary Assessment”

Chapter 4: “Preparing a Business Plan”

Chapter 5: “Putting Capital to Work”


  1. 11/24/2010 - How? Midlife (Elisha Goodman)


  1. 12/1/2010 - How? Leadership Development (values) (Kevin Feeney)


Excerpt from Sen, “Stir It Up”: “Workplace Project Organizes a Cooperative”

Kong, “Mujeres en Accion, Women in Action”

Ella Baker, “Developing Community Leadership”

Kerr and Dole, “Cracking the Temp Trap”


Additional Reading

Goldenberg, “The Structure That Builds The Movement” (see especially Chapter 2)


Trip to visit coops – (East Coast 12/17; West Coast week of 1/3 – Date TBD)

For more information on the Fall 2010 class, please contact Carlos Espinoza, MIT Community Innovators Lab (CoLab).


Cooperative University Centers

Arthur Capper Cooperative Center – Kansas State University

Cooperative Enterprise Program – Cornell University

Quentin Burdick Center for Cooperatives – North Dakota State University

University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives (UWCC) – The university’s library holds one of the largest collections of cooperative materials in the US.



Equal Exchange – Cooperative based in Bridgewater, MA. Fairly traded coffee, tea, chocolate and snacks.