Dr Tony Webster, Head of History at Liverpool John Moores University, announced the plans at a Congress workshop, Our Past, Our Present, Our Future.
The first book, a volume of essays to be published in both hardback and paperback by Manchester University Press, follows on from the ‘Can values make a difference’ conference in Manchester last year and, said Dr Webster, the editing process is now under way.
He told delegates: “This is a timely project. The book will be called ‘The Hidden Alternative: Co-operative Values, Past, Present and Future’ and will be a volume of essays.
“Our aim is to have it published in early 2012 to coincide with the UN International Year of Co-operatives. It will be aimed at an international audience of academics, Co-op members and all those interested in the co-operative model.”
Dr Webster said the proposed book will include essays on education and co-operation; Fairtrade; politics and governance; planning and stability and crisis management.
Meanwhile, the Co-operative Group Business History Project in conjunction with a consortium of North West of England universities and the Co-operative College is planning to produce the first major business history of the CWS/Co-operative Group in time for the society’s 150th anniversary in 2013.
“It’s time to make sure the recent co-operative renaissance is more widely recognised — publicly, politically and in the academic world as well,” declared Dr Webster.
He added: “Clearly, many commentators now see the co-operative business model playing a very important role in the political economy of Britain following the great crisis of 2008, and what needs to be done to underpin that is to take a fresh look at the Co-op business model.
“Certainly, the co-operative business model has somewhat fallen off the map in the academic world and in the areas of history, business studies and economics and references to co-operation have become fewer and fewer in the past 20 years, so one of our main objectives is to put co-operation right back into the mainstream academic agenda.”
He added: “There is a political will to do this; we want to reach out to a bigger national and international audience.”