You are invited to explore alternative higher education models. The professional and co-operative models I have developed treat academics as entrepreneurs, not institutional employees. These alternatives are original and do not rely on the increased use of technology, public funding or venture capitalism; while they offer the possibility of sustainable, high quality, affordable, accessible, and equitable academic service. Consider the Professional Model: http://bit.ly/1iWdCEU
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Higher Education in the Social Economy
This is naked thinking on systemic higher education reform aimed at moving higher education from the capitalist to the social economy. It discusses use of the existing co-operative
service/business model as a plausible global strategic response to the crisis
in higher education, with some notes on integrating elements of the
professional service/business model.
certain views about the higher education circumstance as backdrop for this
current offending system is composed of a triad of functionaries
(institutional service providers/government funding/union labour representation);
(desirable) new or reallocated money is available to this paradigm;
I take a biological (not blueprint) approach to the suggestion that the co-operative model (perhaps
in conjunction with the professional) be used as an alternative to the triad,
acknowledging that a myriad of regional and global influences factor into its actual
implementation. This diagram illustrates the arrangement I have in mind:
Existing Infrastructure and
Lessons for Strategy
the 1920s in the province of Nova Scotia, Canada, where I was born and largely educated,
there was initiated a Catholic socialism movement by two remarkable
individuals, Fathers Moses Coady and Jimmy Thomkins. The effort was referred to as the, Antigonish Movement,
that among other notable accomplishments helped found the Coady International Institute at St. Francis Xavier University, in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.
the 1940s across the Atlantic in the Basque region of Spain a co-operative
movement was begun by another Catholic cleric with roots in a town devastated
by fascism. The Mondragon co-operative
movement started by, Don Jose Maria Arizmendiarrieta,
is now one of the
largest co-operative federations in the world and includes its own accredited university,
The list goes on. These and other examples of co-operative organization
for the provision of manufacture, retail, education, banking, healthcare, and
other services is reason to believe the same can be done for higher education
and research on a grand scale.
a network of established co-operatives that have achieved up and down stream as
well as horizontal diversification on an institutional, regional, national and
other lessons culled from these success stories, for one co-operative to
succeed there needs to be a support network of specialized co-ops, including two
important satellites: education and finance.
Where these sectors have been developed and well integrated within
and without a federated co-operative such movements tend to succeed.
with other requirements for a successful co-operative movement, I would add the
following, access to supportive legal counsel and advocacy. An institution such as the Peoples’ College of Law in, California, might make an excellent co-operative member.
They are a fringe college with official recognition and a solid social
Mondragon University and the Peoples’ College of Law stand to gain. If the PCL were affiliated in some way under
the MU co-operative umbrella (as part of the Mondragon Co-operative Corporation) then Los Angels based PCL can get a foothold in an accredited university
(albeit not for law) while the college brings its unaccredited but recognized
degree granting status in law. There are
other grounds for mutual benefit and optimism for such an affiliation:
international education ties for both co-ops; cultural and language similarities; access to co-operative funds to expand the PCL and MU, including
their influence; and shared principles.
This is an example of the type of federation that would be potent backing for a global co-operative movement in higher education.
Co-operative Principles and
has always been a necessary feature of co-ops, explicitly built into the Rochdale Principles. But it has normally been in aid of making
co-operatives more widely understood or successful in operations. The idea is to reach beyond this and expand higher education as
a global co-operative movement.
Mondragon University exception is rooted in decades of vocational, child,
worker and adult education programs that prove at least as successful and
innovative as public and private versions. There exist educational exceptions in the US as well where 90 or so secondary
teacher cooperative schoolshave demonstrated the success of teacher owned and operated schools.
the historical credit and technical/strategic support required for such a movement is already available in stellar examples such as Mondragon or Lega in Italy
and others around the world, but also in shaken though still deeply rooted examples such
as the Antigonish Movement.
There is respect
and understanding for co-operative ventures in education upon which to build, as
Mondragon University demonstrates.
MU is accredited with a very small but actual Humanities Faculty (education and
media/communication) and along with other mega-federations has a strong co-operative
banking system that is active in student and institutional financial aid. Couple this with
advocacy from a law school like the PCL and its socially oriented alumni and more elbow
room can be made for higher education in the social economy.
be clear to every academic our labour is unlike that typically found in co-operative movements (including educational) - and so is our civic responsibility. Academic labour is in an important
sense distinguished by its authority and place in the economy. Whether it is the manufacture of prefab
factories, the sale of retail goods or improvement in grain yield, academics generate and disseminate the knowledge required for success and innovation in these and other sectors of society. The relationship is
basic and solemn.
of the co-operative model during the Industrial Revolution made it clear that
control of our labour is control of our economy, but also that control of our
economy is control of our labour.
education is arguably the master control, with perhaps the most valuable of labour providing the most valuable of services. Control of this basic economic and social resource must be placed squarely in the
social economy, in the hands of academics. One way to achieve this is to move the resource to the social economy under the protection and direction of the co-operative model.
Notes on Modification
might be a need or desire to introduce certain key characteristics of the
professional model to higher education run as a co-operative.
The salient reasons that independently recommend introduction of the professional model as an
organizational and financial alternative to the triad are the same that
recommend its use within a co-operative higher education model.
University is a remarkable institution with unique operations and reasonable
tuition (which is never a bar to attendance thanks to credit union resources),
but it is an institution. It is a means
of facilitating higher education on par with the universities and colleges of
the triad. Including its high cost and limited access, we are now painfully aware this model has significant deficiencies that indicate it cannot (and should not) be
professional model is a way to lower and better control higher education
costs while increasing access to academics - along with response to other deficiencies of the triad - from within a
co-operative of the social economy.
contain businesses that range in organization from factory operations to
cottage industry, and with services in scope from banks to insurance. The notion of an independent professional
academic in private higher education practice should not be barred. In fact there exist co-operative practices within the legal and medical
Such an original application of the professional model to
academic labour owning and operating medium to large scale practices under co-operative principles is possible and I think preferable to the the capitalist based triad model that now dominates the world scene.
It presents the professional alternative as a bid for the higher education social contract, which has been recently and unofficially forced opened by crises across the triad, such as: 1) The purchase of accreditation through private "revitalization investment" in a growing number of struggling or near defunct institutions; 2) The meteoric rise of private and public ventures into Massive Open Online Courses; 3) The continued reduction in public support for everything from higher education finance to its philosophy...
This tender is part of a larger reform effort wherein the service, governance, finance and representation features of the professions are combined with those of the co-operative model in use since the early 19th century. This professional/co-operative model c…
With social media craze and higher
education crisis as parents, the hashtags #alt-ac, #post-ac,
refer to people classified by their work, education, and attitude toward the academy,
who opt or aim for careers across the public and private, employee and entrepreneur
work spaces within and without higher education, and who by some lights are laying
foundation for a new academy. Until recently I was unaware that I might
be classified as an “acer” – as in “hacker.”
Like many others I do not fit nicely under
any one of the three hashtags, though best fit is a reluctant post-ac.For a decade I worked as an adjunct until
five years ago when romantic and labour market forces left me without even this
tenuous access to faculty work.