Ethical Consumer launches essay contest to stimulate co-operative ideas

With 2012 being named the International Year of Co-operatives, Ethical Consumer is encouraging co-operators, academics, enterprisers and young people from all over the world to take part in...

With 2012 being named the International Year of Co-operatives, Ethical Consumer is encouraging co-operators, academics, enterprisers and young people from all over the world to take part in its essay competition “Is there a co-operative alternative to capitalism?”

Organisers hope the contest will inspire people across the world to bring forward innovative ideas and suggest solutions to the current economic crisis. Entries are open until 5 October. The contest is also an opportunity for people to engage in an active debate on the future of co-operatives and the role they could play on the global economic scene.

Contestants are asked to assess whether co-operatives can become an alternative to capitalism or how the world would look with co-operatives gradually replacing private businesses across every economic sector.

Rob Harrison, Director at Ethical Consumer, said the essay prize idea came in the context of the Occupy protests. “To some degree it was about getting people from within the coop movement to talk to some of the your people from the Occupy. A discussion between those two groups.” He said the contest also aims to encourage people to come up with solutions to the environmental crisis going on at the moment.

Ethical Consumer also launched a crowd sourcing website where people can suggest what needs to change to make co-operatives the dominant business model. So far, the idea with the biggest support is that co-operative principles should be taught in lower and middle school.

People can contribute their own ideas as well as vote for each other's ideas.

To help those interested in submitting essay entries, Ethical Consumer has suggested a number of questions that could be addressed in the essays.

Contestants are asked to assess whether co-operatives can become an alternative to capitalism or how would the world look like with co-operatives gradually replacing private businesses across every economic sector.

Entries are open until 5 October and the winner will be awarded a £1,000 cash prize at Co-operatives United in October. The contest also has the backing of Co-operatives UK, as well as from The New Internationalist. Essays must have a maximum of 6,000 words.

• To find out more information and submit entries, visit the Ethical Consumer website.

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