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Challenges for universities in cooperative economies

22 October, 2015

Set within the framework of Aristos Campus Mundus, the first International Conference on Social Economics and CooperativismUniversity, entrepreneurship and cooperativism was held on 15 October in the Blanquerna Communication and International Relations Faculty Auditorium at Ramon Llull University. The event was organised jointly with the Catalonian Government Department of Business and Employment’s ARACOOP programme.

The event focused on debate and knowledge of how the subject of social economics and cooperativism is addressed at Catalonian universities, successful cases and what future challenges are being raised by the growing importance of this new way of organising business and work.

Various talks, round table discussions and experimental sessions on issues such as the opportunities young people can find in social entrepreneurship were held at the meeting. Other topics included how unversities are addressing the subject, how to strengthen their presence or how the cooperative mission orients the country’s economy.

Representatives of the Quebec and Mondragón cooperative movements spoke at the event. These areas have a long history of cooperativism. The president of Le Chantier del Économie Sociale de Quebec, M. Patrick Duguay, highlighted the need for “a broad group of players to sit down and explain their points of view” to reinforce the role of social economics in society. Marguerite Mendell, of Concordia University, shared this opinion. She urged Spanish universities to work with organisations that focus on the common good.

Experts such as Joan Subirats, Chair in Political Science at the Autonomous University of Barcelona; Ramon Bastida, lecturer in Financial Economics and Accounting at Pompeu Fabra University; Carlos Ballesteros, lecturer in Ethics of Marketing Fair and Responsible Consumption at Comillas Pontifical University ICAI-ICADE; José Luis Retolaza of Deusto Business School; Pratick Duguay, President, Chantier del économie sociale du Québec; María Elena Alfaro, Director of the ARED Foundation, and others spoke in the three round table discussions.

Josep M. Garrell, Rector of Ramon Llull University, gave the opening address with Xavier López, Director General of the Catalonian Government Social Economics, Cooperative and Self-Employed Work in the Business and Occupation Department, Perfecto Alonso, President of the Catalonian Confederation of Cooperatives; Josep Maria Carbonell, Dean of the Blanquerna Communication Faculty at Ramon Llull University, who highlighted the university’s key role in training professionals who can help to boost these new projects.

Andreu Ibarz, Director General of Blanquerna- Ramon Llull, remarked on the efforts being made at the university, and particularly at Blanquerna, to foster this knowledge from four different perspectives: values, methodologies, working instruments and links with business.

One of the conclusions that could be drawn from the conference was that little attention is paid to this subject in the university world and the great opportunities it could raise for young people. The participants themselves recognised that much remains to be done, above all in terms of communication, to give social economics the place in deserves in today’s society.

Social economics and cooperativism: a value on the rise

This conference aimed to address recent social movements, the economic, political and territorial crisis, the crisis of confidence and eclosion of the technology revolution which have prompted emergence of the culture of collaboration in organisations. This culture is based on mutual trust, dialogue and commitments. It has renewed some business dynamics where empathy, transparency, innovation and social responsibility are central. Organisations become more participatory, egalitarian and horizontal, striving to contribute to market balance and demonstrating their ability to increase social cohesion and achieve the employment, innovation, education, social integration and climate and energy objectives envisioned in the Europe 2020 growth strategy.

The conference website

The conference on Facebook

The conference on Twitter

The conference was rebroadcast using the hashtags #JIIESC2015 o #aracoop


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