Sharing knowledge and experiences at European-wide co-op campus

The Co-operative College has helped develop a new learning framework for employees and members of co-ops in Europe. The College is one of eight partner organisations involved in the...

The Co-operative College has helped develop a new learning framework for employees and members of co-ops in Europe. The College is one of eight partner organisations involved in the European Co-operative Campus (EUCC), a joint accredited programme designed to make it easier for employees and members of co-operatives to move across European countries.

Through the EUCC, co-operatives from different European countries are able to share knowledge and expertise. The project is based on developing a mobility framework with ‘mobility learning units’, under which co-operative members or employees from one country visit a co-operative abroad to share their experiences. Through these accredited units, they then identify how their experience at the host co-op will help them in their role in their own co-op. Their thoughts on the study visit are later added to a reflective journal.

As part of the programme, the Co-operative College has developed two units on values and principles and membership engagement. “These were identified as key areas for the first mobility units written specifically for co-operatives,” explained Angela Colebrook, customer relationship and quality manager at the College. For each unit, the College has identified a set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria.

The programme’s eight partner organisations are from Italy, the UK, Germany, Spain, Greece, France and Romania, and include the Trentino Federation of Cooperation (lead partner) and the European Research Institute on Co-operative and Social Enterprises (Euricse).

Kevin Bennett
Kevin Bennett

As part of the project, all partners were asked to identify learners to attend a study tour and practically ‘test’ the reflective journal. Kevin Bennett, head of membership at Chelmsford Star Co-operative, joined the project team in Almeria, Spain, in May while one of the co-op’s directors, Michael Whalley, attended the second test phase in Montabaur, Germany, in July.

Feedback helped review the effectiveness of the reflective journal as a tool. A version incorporating his and other participants’ feedback is currently being translated into the languages of all the partner countries.

Talking about his experience, Mr Bennett said: “It was a great privilege to be asked to take part in the European Co-op Campus project. I gained knowledge on agricultural co-operatives in Spain, and other co-ops throughout Europe from the networking available, not just on where our differences lie but also on what co-operatives in the UK share with them.

“The test phase of the project was quite intensive. However, I felt I was able to make a significant contribution to the development of the reflective journal, the document the Co-operative College was responsible for designing.

“The comments that I and my fellow learners made following the evaluation session of the testing phase have contributed to improvements, resulting in a learner-friendly and useful training tool to support co-operative mobility units moving forward.”

A final project seminar will take place in Brussels on 3 December when Kevin Bennett, along with Angela Colebrook, will give presentations on the journal.

“I am now looking forward to the opportunity to share my experiences and to promote the benefits of the project at the seminar in Brussels,” said Mr Bennett.

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