New online course explores co-op alternatives for economic democracy

The University of Edinburgh is collaborating with the University of St. Andrews and James Hutton Institute to launch a new free online course on co-operative and economic democracy.

Economic Democracy: The Co-operative Alternative will focus on worker owned and controlled firms. The course starts on 29 November, but students as this is an open, self-paced course with automated quizzes and community forums, students can enrol after that date.

Participants will learn the basic economics of firms owned or controlled by their workers, look at the main issues relating to the long-term viability of co-operatives and what policies can promote a co-operative sector in a market economy. The central questions of this course are:

  • What would happen if workers ran their own firms?
  • Would worker-managed firms take the same decisions as their capitalist counterparts?
  • Could such an economy be efficient?
  • What policies could be deployed to promote a cooperative sector?

Instructors include: Donald A.R. George, senior lecturer of Economics at the University of Edinburgh; Rick Woodward, lecturer in International Business at the University of Edinburgh; Juliette Summers, lecturer in management at the University of St Andrews; Jelte Harnmeijer, founding partner at Scene Consulting; and David Erdal, research fellow at the University of St Andrews.

The course will examine various co-operative forms of organisation looking at issues such as the internal impact of employee ownership, simple economic theory of the labour-managed firm and performance bonds and wage-earner investment funds. Students will also get introduced to Kibbutzim, Pacific plywood co-operatives and the Mondragon Group and learn more about co-operatives in different sectors, such as finance and renewables.

  • While the course itself is free, participants can also choose to pursue a verified certificate for $49 (£40) to highlight the knowledge and skills they gain. More information and details on how to enrol are available here.