Syllabus for Education 187: Cooperatives and Community Development Education for Ownership

Lack of formal curricula for learning about worker cooperatives can be a barrier to movement building and movement legitimacy.  In California  Deb Gray taught a course on cooperatives from the UC Berkeley Education department, which would sometimes deliver an interested student to sit in on a NoBAWC meeting.  UWCC posted the syllabus.  For those autodidacts out there, here's the syllabus  revised to link to many of the materials mentioned.     


Cooperatives and Community Development Education for Ownership


Social and Cultural Studies, UC Berkeley

Fall 1998

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.



  1. 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.)
  2. Papers 2 short papers (2-3 pages) reflecting personal responses to the topic. (10% of grade)
  3. 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)
  4. 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)


The following will be available for purchase and on reserve at the Education/Psychology Library:

Nadeau & Thompson, Cooperation Works!, Lone Oak Press, 1996.

MacLeod, From Mondragon to America, University College of Cape Breton Press, 1997.

Reports and articles from the Center for Cooperatives, UC Davis.

Reader: Available from Odin Books, 2146 Center Street.




Week 1

Introduction and overview of themes


New International Cooperative Identity Statement Adopted, Farmer Cooperatives, 11/95.

Cooperatives: Schools for Democracy, United Nations Department of Public Information, 7/95.

Nadeau & Thompson, Cooperation Works!, Lone Oak Press, 1996. Introduction


Week 2

Introduction to the Economics of Cooperatives


Cooperatives and Community Development: Economics in Social Perspective, Fairbairn et al. 

Centre for the Study of Cooperatives, University of Saskatchewan (1991) Prologue-p.65


Week 3

Cooperatives through History


Discussion and analysis of driving forces and critical elements underlying cooperative development.

Guest speaker, David Thompson discusses Rochdale and current day cooperatives in the U.S.


Into the Twenty-first Century: Cooperatives Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, International Cooperative Alliance, 1/96.


Week 4

Worker Cooperatives


Evolution of the Berkeley worker co-ops, looking at the Cheese Board/Arizmendi initiative as a case study.  [These are my recommended resouces - not sure what Gray was using in 1998, perhaps a guest speaker.]


Introduction to start-up and expansion issues.

Nadeau and Thompson, Chapter 4, Enterprising Businesses Owned by their Employees

UCLA Community Scholars, Putting Capital in its Place: the L.A. Worker Ownership Project,

Alternative Legal Structures for Starting Worker-owned Businesses,1996. [I'm not sure where this document was from, but here are some related resources:]

Co-ops, ESOPs and Worker Participation, Rebecca Bauen, Dollars & Sense, No. 200 (July/Aug 1995)

Success and Failure in an American Workers’ Cooperative Movement, Gerry Mackie, Politics & Society, Vol 22, No. 2 (June 1994) 215-235


Week 5

Cooperative Start-up


Needs assessment, business planning and feasibility analysis for new cooperatives. Introduction to group projects.


Organizing Production Cooperatives: A Strategy for Community Economic Development, Alvarado-Greenwood, Haberfeld and Lee, National Economic Development and Law Center, 1978.


Week 6

Cooperatives in Rural Development


Special challenges of rural economies. Understanding regional economic flows, value-adding.


Nadeau and Thompson, Chapter 10, Providing Power to Rural Communities

Best Practices for Cooperative Development, Network of Centers for Rural Cooperative Development, Cooperative Development Foundation (1996)

Egerstrom, Make No Small Plans: A Cooperative Revival for Rural America, Lone Oak Press (1995) 217-247


Week 7

Housing Cooperatives

Examine the USCA student housing cooperatives, member education, decision-making and governance.


Nadeau and Thompson: Chapter 5, Cooperative Housing Brings the Dream Home; Chapter 6, Senior Co-op Housing


Week 8

Consumer Co-ops


Consumer control of the food and credit systems. Continued discussion of member education, decision-making and governance in cooperatives.


Nadeau and Thompson, Chapter 3, Consumer Co-ops

Nadeau and Thompson, Chapter 8, Community Development Credit Unions

Matsuoka, Stone and Krimerman, From the Kitchen to the World, GEO, 12 (March-April 1994), 2-5

Can Food Co-ops Work in Low-Income Communities? UWCC Newsletter,  (Fall 1997), pp.7,14


The Food Co-op Handbook, The Co-op Handbook Collective, Co-op Publishing Ltd., (1983). Preface, Chapters 7&8


Week 9

Cooperative Finance and Capitalization


Understanding the financial structure of cooperatives.


Alvarado-Greenwood, Haberfeld and Lee, Organizing Production Cooperatives: A Strategy for Community Economic Development, Chapter 6


Week 10

Cooperatives in Agriculture

The case of California Agriculture. Cooperatives and the free market system.


Nadeau and Thompson, Chapter 1, Value-Added Agricultural Cooperatives;

International Cooperative Alliance, The Agricultural Cooperative Movement (11/95)


Week 11
Planning and Feasibility Review


Review of key development planning and feasibility assessment techniques. In-class progress reports and problem solving on group projects.


Week 12

Survival strategies: Co-op conversions and shared services

Worker buy-outs in a global economy. Shared services cooperatives - recycling, rural pharmacies.


Nadeau and Thompson, Chapter 2, The Cooperative Business behind the Small Businesses on Main

Street; Chapter 12, Local Governments Leaving Old Rivalries Behind


Week 13

The Mondragon model


Mondragon, example of an integrated cooperative. Attempts to apply Mondragon structures in the U.S.


MacLeod, From Mondragon to America, University College of Cape Breton Press (1997) pp 17-91.

Can Co-ops Go Global?, Tim Huet, Dollars and Sense, #214 (Nov-Dec 1997), pp 16-19, 41-42



Week 14 - Cooperatives at the International Level

The International Cooperative Alliance and the international cooperative movement. Cooperative laws and environments in the US and abroad.


International Cooperative Alliance:

How The International Cooperative Alliance Contributes To The Objectives Of The United Nations (1994)

Dimensions of the International Cooperative Movement (3/95)

Cooperative Agenda 21 (5/95)

None of these appear to be available through ICA's website


Week 15

Student Projects, final reports and class wrap-up


Bauen - Los Flores Metalarte.pdf68.02 KB