@YSJSocialEcon

Sustainable development and universities: Institutionalising sustainable development into universities: advantages & solutions

This is the 3rd article in the series of 4 by Sorina Antonescu. See overview of articles here >>

1.      Universities and the Challenge of Larger Systems Interactions

STOC0044According to Velazquez et al. (2006, p. 812) a sustainable university can be defined as

A higher educational institution, as whole or as a part that addresses, involves and promotes, on a regional or global level, the minimisation of negative environmental, economic, societal and health effects generated in the use of their resources in order to fulfil its function of teaching, research, outreach and partnership, and stewardship in ways to help society make the transition to sustainable lifestyles.

Similarly, Cole (2003, p.30) envisages a sustainable campus community as

 (…) one that acts upon its local and global responsibilities to protect and enhance the health and well-being of humans and ecosystems. It actively engages the knowledge of the university community to address the ecological and social challenges that we face now and in the future.

Undoubtedly, statements similar to the ones outlined above stand proof to the well-intended, ambitious and even visionary nature of their authors. Yet, despite their far-sighted goals, these relatively broad and abstract views fail to provide the genuine contribution required to compile a comprehensive and detailed guide, narrower in scope, such that it becomes possible to take the proactive steps necessary to turn this seemingly impracticable feat of sustainable-universities-leading-by-example into a tangible reality.  Read more >>

Sujali women transforming their families and their community

Article written by Mary Kiguru, founder and mentor of the Sujali Self-Help Group, Nairobi, Kenya. For more articles about the remarkable journey of these women and the way they have transformed their businesses with microcredits, please click here.

photo 1It was Valentine’s day, so I decided to visit Sujali group of women … to talk about love for our businesses. I visited five of the women. It was a hot morning, 28°C and dusty… not the kind of weather a farmer desires, but we have to deal with this.

Rispa is a farmer but the weather does not deter her efforts in anyway. She is always determined. I found her busy in her farm. She has a green house, she has just completed harvesting tomatoes, but due to the heat, there have been terrible flies laying eggs in the tomatoes. But to supplement her tomatoes she planted “Pili Pili Hoho” aka Paprika/Capsicum and has a nursery for Spinach. Amazingly, after such blazing heat on this day, clouds formed and it RAINED that night and has been rained ever since Valentine’s night!

 

 

photo 2

Elizabeth was doing what she loves doing most… making hair. We have been discussing about expanding her business. Our last discussion with her was about engaging someone on commission to do what she is not able to do and to assist when she has many clients. Here she is shaping a client’s eyebrows. Elizabeth has been able to diversify her business by adding a unit to sell beauty products.

 

 

 

 

 

photo 4

 

Susan’s business is also looking up. Besides selling clothes, she has added more of the hair products and other cosmetics. Susan does not restrict her business to the premise in Ruai, she also supplies to people in other locations during the weekend. She has been thinking of taking the clothes to the market during market days. Most important is that her and Wacuka, her assistant, have improved in their book keeping. Susan pays herself a salary to ensure that any profits are ploughed back in to the business.

 

 

 

photo 5Next, I visited Jacinta. Jacinta is the proud owner of Daisy, pregnant Daisy. I did not realize how long it takes a cow to bring its calf into the world. It has been so long, but now she looks ready to pop out. Daisy is not her main preoccupation but rather the “HOTEL”. Even though it was 28°C, people were taking tea. This is Kenya, it does not mean just because its hot, you will be taking ice cream … Tea is our thing and with  “Mandazi”, something like a doughnut.

 

 

 

photo 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alice, her chicken business has never been better and the goats too. I however admired how fast the chicken grow. The newest chicks will start laying in two-weeks’ time. She still cannot meet the demand for eggs and has to work with neighbors to meet the demand. With the loan acquired in December, she put a watering system that makes it much easier for her and her assistant. Alice has decided to ensure that she pays herself a salary. While she pays her assistant KES150.00 (1.07 pound equivalent) per day, she pays herself KES200.00 (~£1.42 Pounds) per day.

photo 7These chicks are 3.5 months old. They start laying in two weeks’ time. Please note the red thing in the center. That is the watering system.

I was not able to visit Linet, Eunice and Rosemary. During our meeting, Linet was able to clear her loan and applied for a bigger loan of KES50,000. Linet runs a food canteen and now has orders for wedding cakes in April. She plans to buy an oven in readiness for baking.

Although January is a slow month, Eunice business was picking up after the Form one selection in February. She took an overdraft of KES10,000.00 to meet the demand during this season.

Rosemary runs a hardware shop dealing with scrap metal. They target farmers putting up chicken houses. She took a loan of KES70,000 to increase her stock.

Sujali is looking up. We have students interested in working with the women. They will be visiting them this Thursday to get acquainted. They already see Sujali as their project.

Sustainable Development and Universities: Institutionalising Sustainable Development into University Curricula: Setbacks

This is the 2nd article in the series of 4 by Sorina Antonescu. See overview of articles here >>

  1.       HEIs and the greater society: where do they stand?

It is a truth universally acknowledged amongst our government representatives, economists and the mainstream media that we’re living in a time of austerity characterised by economic, social and political shortcomings. Yet, universities are seen as defiant relative to the current state of the world.

At first sight, HEIs seem to thrive; new institutions are being founded and student numbers applying for university courses are constantly on the rise; they are major local and national employers, and governments in developed and developing countries alike deem them crucial in the strive for wealth creation and GDP growth. Only a relatively few existing sources on the other hand, strive to question the fundamental role universities play in the societies that they represent. Any voices outlining the contrary, namely, that universities are in a state of crisis is seen as a notion lining on the verge of the absurd (Cullingford, 2004).

Graduation

 

The rise of science parks on university premises and their expanding industrial links, particularly as part of their curricula and research operations, stand as testimony to the fundamental role universities play in the modern economy. At the same time, HEIs are increasingly subject to external control and government interference. In this context, it becomes imperative to ask whether the prevalent competition between universities at the level of funding and research operations, or the fact that increasingly, they are subject to external influence, has had any impact on the foundational role of a university from which stems their their ability to challenge dominant societal trends. While the points discussed so far seem to contradict any suggestion that there is a need to re-assess the role of HEIs in the modern world, it is worth prodding into their past, and touch on some of the values that a university stood for in times preceding our own.

 
Historically, the role of HEIs has been to challenge the dominant issues of their times such as religious, socio-cultural, or science-related. At the same time, earlier generations were centred on answering profound questions. These centred on the pursuit of knowledge for a better understanding of the surrounding world and the power of natural elements, at a time when technological breakthroughs had yet to take advent. The purpose of scholarship was to not so much the acquisition of knowledge per se, but rather reaching the core of a problem and the subsequent attempt at finding ways to solve it (Blewitt and Cullingford, 2004; Cortese, 2003; Lozano, 2011; Davis, 2003; Lozano et al., 2011).  Read more >>

Sustainable Development and Universities: Combining the New and the Old

In this series of four articles written  for the Social Economy in Higher Education project by Sorina Antonescu , the concept of sustainability in relation to higher education institutions is discussed.

In this first article, she starts by discussing the notion of sustainability and sustainable development (SD) from a historical perspective and then breaks it down into more specific information; in the second half of the article she narrows the area of SD further to HEIs and provides a number of reasons as to why they are such an optimal starting point for imbuing a sustainable ethos in their curricula, operations, outreach and research.

In the second article (forthcoming), she outlines and develops on the number of setbacks that universities face in institutionalising sustainability into the aforementioned areas both from the perspective of finance, resources, and the prevalent conservative nature of HEIs in maintaining a traditional modularity and specialisation of subjects that somehow clashes with the interdisciplinary nature of sustainability.

In the third article (forthcoming) she outlines the advantages that HEIs have relative to other institutions in society to take the lead and take the first step towards creating a sustainable mindset that is then mirrored in universities’ policies and practices and explains why they are able to do that.

And in the fourth and final article (forthcoming), she outlines a number of successful attempts based on various case studies and attempts to identify the key factors that would enable HEIs to implement sustainability into their curricula, operations, research and outreach.

Sustainable Development and Universities: Combining the New and the Old

1.      History and overview of sustainability/ sustainable development

One of the most well-known attempts at defining the concept of sustainable development is found in the Bruntland Report (WCED, 1987). The report, which captures the deliberations of the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), a United Nations formal group, aims to find ways to systematically pursue the conservation of the environment at an international scale in light of economic, social and political considerations. (Filho, 200o, p.9)

According to the report,

 Humanity has the ability to make development sustainable to ensure that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (WCED, 1987, p.16)

The concept of sustainable development is thus a concerted effort to bring together growing concerns on the increasing environmental degradation and interrelated socio-political and economic factors, in order to lay the foundation for a process that links these apparently stand-alone factors to human equity (Hopwood et al., 2005, p.2).

Yet, despite the fact that sustainability or the concept of sustainable development (henceforth SD) permeates the scientific field as a whole (with particular relevance in the earth sciences) the tracing of the concept’s origins remains a challenging task, more so as its wide appeal and applicability to a wide range of societal issues has left it subject to political discourse and rhetoric (Filho, 2000, p.9).

According to Filho (2000, p.9) the use of the concept of sustainability can be traced back to the 1970s to refer to the management of the forestry sector. Sustainability has been synonymous for expressions such as ‘long term’, ‘durable’, ‘sound’ or ‘systematic’ (ibid). However, as Blewitt and Cullingford (2004, p.17) point out,

The problem with the notion of sustainability is that is has become a cliché. Read more >>

 

Sorina Antonescu is a graduate in English Language and Linguistics from the University of York, with a pervasive and sustained, long-term interest in areas of sustainability and sustainable development, particularly in the context of Higher Education Institutions. Sorina currently works as an independent researcher for the Network of Early-Career Sustainable Scientists and Engineers (NESSE) where she studies the incorporation of sustainability into science and engineering curricula in UK universities. Sorina is also a former intern at Envirocrew CIC and a past contributing writer for Chemistry Review and NOUSE


Values and dimensions of entrepreneurship in the solidarity economy – a view from Brazil

News: We are delighted that Dr Antonio Cruz, former National Coordinator (Brazil) of the Network of Popular Cooperatives of University Incubators will be speaking at the conference at York St John University, 1-3 Sept 2015

In Latin America and Africa the term social and solidarity economy is used to refer to “organisations that have explicit economic AND social (and often environmental) objectives; and which involve varying forms of co-operative, associative and solidarity relations.  They include, for example, cooperatives, mutual associations, NGOs engaged in income generating activities, women’s self-help groups, community forestry and other organizations, associations of informal sector workers, social enterprise and fair trade organizations and networks” (Utting 2013)

The term is becoming increasingly used in English, for example by the United Nations.

Conceptual models of the social and solidarity economy need to reflect the wide diversity of grassroots  experiences. Luís Inácio Gaiger and other Brazilian scholars performed  mapping and studies of the Social and Solidarity Economy ventures in Brazil in surveys conducted between 1992 and 2009. They created a conceptual and analytical model of enterprises in the solidarity economy, defining criteria in  quadrants as below. The model is presented in the table below. (See the original in Portuguese at the bottom of the article).

Gaiger and Corrêa 2010: 162

Gaiger and Corrêa 2010: 162

In quadrant SQ, self-management is linked to democracy, participation and autonomy of the enterprise in its management, relating both to individual partners as organizations and external forces.  Cooperation refers to values and practices of mutual collaboration, mutuality and social commitment. As for quadrant EQ, the efficiency of an enterprise relates to its ability to sustain and consolidate itself as a result of its activities. It refers to aspects of economic operation to ensure the survival of the enterprise in the present and not to jeopardise it in the future. Sustainability refers to the ability to generate conditions for follow working in the medium and long term (Gaiger and Corrêa 2010: 162).

The spirit of enterprise is combined with community solidarity. It recognises two logics of action: the instrumental logic of the entrepreneur who needs realism and pragmatism in his/her drive to ensure workable solutions in the realisation of an economic alternative. In balance with this are the ideological  values and principles, focusing on the aspiration for personal and social change, requiring commitment to others and above all the conviction that transformation will add social value (Gaiger and Corrêa 2010: 166, 167).

This article is translated and adapted from the project blog in Portuguese.

References

Gaiger, L. I. and Corrêa, A. da S. 2010. A História e os sentidos do empreendedorismo solidário. Outra Economía, volumen IV, nº7: 162.

Utting, P. (2013)  What is social and solidarity economy and why does it matter? Oxfamblogs.org

Gaiger and Corrêa 2010: 162

Gaiger and Corrêa 2010: 162

Leading thinkers and practitioners in social entrepreneurship add diverse voices to conference

Leading thinkers and practitioners from universities in the field of co-operativism, business through the lense of human rights, enterprise incubators in the solidarity economy and innovation in the public sector will be presenting key notes at the international conference called ‘Universities developing social entrepreneurship through cross-sector collaboration’ 1-3 Sept, 2015 in York, UK.  The conference aims to develop and share knowledge about how private, public and social sectors can collaborate to promote entrepreneurial thinking and practice in universities for social purpose.

Dr Rory Ridley-Duff is leading new thinking around models of co-operativism and is co-founder of the Fair Shares Association. His book ‘Understanding Social Enterprise: Theory and Practice is being used by educators and practitioners in four continents.

Dr Saioa Arando is the research co-ordinator of Mondragon Innovation Knowledge, part of the Mondragon Cooperative Group, the largest cooperative in the world and based in the Basque Country in Spain. She has won an award for her work on the economics of participation.

Professor Hiroshi Ishida is working with companies in Japan on sustainability, and approaches his work from the perspective of human rights.

Dr Antonio Cruz has many years of experience in the leadership of enterprise incubators within the ‘solidarity’ economy in Brazil. He has co-ordinated the Brazilian network of university incubators. He takes a critical stance on the involvement of the private sector.

Tim Curtis is an internationally renowned author in the field of social enterprise and social innovation. His focus is on the theory and practice of community organising.

The conference also has an international advisory committee of leaders in the field from Europe and North and South America who will evaluate submitted abstracts. See more about the keynote speakers and the advisory committee.

The conference will be held at York St John University in the historic city of York, UK, 1st -3rd Sept 2015. Registration for the conference is open. Information about submitting abstracts for posters and presentations can also be found on the conference web page.

Four becomes eight – more from the Sujali Self-Help Group

By Dr Mike Calvert, York St John University, UK with help from Mary Kiguru from the Sujali Self-Help Group

To see all posts about the group and their work with microcredits, click here

Sujali6

 

Over the summer two new members, Rispa and Elizabeth, started talking out loans and two more are ready to start. They have been mentioned before and are on their first cycle. The newest members of the group, Lynette and Rosemary either have just started borrowing or are about to start.

Rosemary and her husband have a business selling second hand iron sheetings and building materials and it is doing well. She has not yet borrowed but is looking at the possibility of a second business to supplement their income.

Lynette, Susan’s daughter-in-law, opened a small hotel (read cafe) in July 2014 and it has started well. She needed money to buy a gas cooker and sufficient crockery. There are nearby stores and these provide the customer base. She employs two girls to work for her. Lynette is an ex-teacher and is always being asked for advice on cooking. As a result, she is considering offering cookery classes for those housewives who lack the knowledge. This could be an interesting sideline.

 

 

Sujali7

 

Elizabeth has increased her product range for beauty products and the number of chairs in her salon. At present, she is working alone but there are opportunities there for her to open the salon up to more stylists. She has a good-sized property and could easily accommodate up to 4 stylists.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sujali8

 

Rispa was featured in the last blog entry but it is important to say that ultimately this scheme could be life-changing. She currently works in an insurance office in Nairobi and, like many workers, faces a 2hr+ commute into the city every morning beginning early. Being able to work full-time on her greenhouse, chickens, vegetable produce, etc. would enable her to devote all her efforts and energy to her business. At present her and her husband only spend Saturdays working on their plot. She has purchased a storage tank for water which for a modest outlay (KES12,000) will provide her with 15,000 litres of water. She is harvesting the water which drains off her greenhouses. She has two young children and to be able to work on this full-time is her dream.

Current
exchange rate is approximately £1 = KES140 $1 = KES90 €1 = KES110

Sujali Self-Help Group founder members going from strength to strength

By Dr Mike Calvert, York St John University, UK with help from Mary Kiguru from the Sujali Self-Help Group

To see all posts about the group and their work with microcredits, click here

The original group of Susan, Alice, Jacinta and Eunice are into their third cycle of lending and are doing well. They are a hard act to follow.

Sujali2

 

Alice continues to diversify and grow. Her 1500 chickens have increased to over 2000 (with another thousand planned). She has a very high turnover of eggs as well as broilers and she sells the waste produce as manure and her two goats have both had twins! She pays someone to look after her chickens and is keen to diversify further.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sujali4

Sujali3

 

Eunice is seeing business pick up. She continues to provide work for her old employees and, depending on the complexity of the pattern, she can make up two or three garments a day although it has to be said that she works 14 hours per day from 7am to 9pm. She has four children, one at university and one about to go to college and two a lot younger.

 

 

 

 

 

Sujali5

 

Jacinta has built a cowshed with her loan (for Daisy who is expecting in March) and a kitchen behind the hotel (cafe). She has further plans for expansion. Steve, her husband, reports that things are much easier now and that careful expansion is the order of the day.

Susan’s shop continues to increase its stock and continues to employ Milka, a relative.

Current exchange rate is approximately £1 = KES140 $1 = KES90 €1 = KES110

Catching up with the Sujali Self-Help Group, Nairobi, Kenya

By Dr Mike Calvert, York St John University, UK with help from Mary Kiguru from the Sujali Self-Help Group

To see all posts about the group and their work with microcredits, click here

Sujali_self-help_group1I met up with the 8 members of the SSHG and Mary on a recent trip to Nairobi. This first of three blogs focuses on the group as a whole. The second, published later this week will catch up on the ‘old’ members and third on the ‘new’ members.

The lunch meeting took place in a local hotel on 24th November. There was an expectation that all would attend and, true to form, they were all there.  I can report that the group meet religiously (pun intended) on the second Sunday of the month and are fined for late or non-attendance or late payments.

The group has discussed the loans that have been in place. The loan was originally set at 1% per month for loans of 3 to 5 months. The group would like to borrow over a longer period of up to a year. Ironically, this works out at a higher rate than other low rate providers. Since the original intention was not to have an interest rate of over 3%, it was suggested that they set an annual rate at 3 or 5%. Interestingly, some of the women would rather have a 10% annual rate so that any surplus can be used for training or other expenses. The decision was that they will discuss the rate that they want to charge each other.

I was able to announce at the meeting that the money available had doubled thanks to two new contributions.  KES150,000 has become KES300,000. The other important development which was reported on briefly was that they are using the scheme as a way of saving. At present, they each save KES500 a month but this will increase to KES1000 in January.

The third development has seen the slowest uptake and that is training. So far this has not been possible but they recognise the importance of sound bookkeeping and being able to monitor costs and income.

The final point to make is that the group, as might be anticipated, is supporting each other by buying produce from each other. Jacinta is buying Alice’s eggs and Alice is buying Jacinta’s milk, for example.

I look forward to returning in 2015.

Current exchange rate is approximately £1 = KES140 $1 = KES90 €1 = KES110

 

More from the Sujali Self Help Group in Nairobi: Rispa centre stage

Post by Mike Calvert, York St John University (with photos and some of the commentary from Mary Kiguru of the Sujali Self Help Group)

Rispas grenhouseSee previous posts about the SSHG and their experiences with microfinance

The Sujali Self Help Group (SSHG) has been so successful that it was decided to double the investment in this micro-finance initiative. Further lenders have come forward. From November 2014, just 18 months since it was set up, there will be KES300,000 in the pot (just over £2000) which began as KES66,000 in June 2013.

The latest success story is that of Rispa who initially borrowed a small sum to build her greenhouse.

This has been completed and she is now planting crops that do not need a greenhouse such as paprika. There is talk of her preparing products for export!planting

The group is to meet again on November 24 when I visit Nairobi. It will be a good opportunity for the group to reflect on what they have learnt. They recently agreed that the borrowing period will be extended to one year and that the group will borrow different sums of money based on their income generated and payments throughout the year. Each of the women will submit their accounts before borrowing more money so that the figure can be decided upon by the group. As previously mentioned, the group and Mary, as co-ordinator, are on a steep learning curve and, as well as improving their own business management skills, may well hire an accountant in the future with the surplus that the lending generates.

So far, there is no news of Daisy who must be about to give birth at any time. Readers of this blog will be the first to know and photos will follow in early December.

 

Call for papers on universities fostering social entrepreneurship through cross-sector collaboration

Conference 1-3 Sept 2015, York St John University, York, UK. See conference website

As part of the York St John University-led Erasmus Mundus social economy project, the conference aims to address the following question: ‘How can higher education foster interactions between the current economic systems (public, private and social) to promote social entrepreneurship cultures for sustainable development in our communities?’

Universities have a clear and distinctive role in promoting both social entrepreneurship cultures and cross-sector partnerships. The conference will present a range of studies, research and best practices about cross-sector partnerships which create social value within communities and have a positive impact on developing social entrepreneurship within higher education.

Now more than ever cross-sector collaboration is essential, because the challenges faced by society can only be tackled successfully if value-building capabilities, resources, effort and knowledge are linked or shared by organisations. Cross-sector collaboration is at the heart of social entrepreneurship cultures which are nurtured by the quality of their relationships. Collaborations need to be based on the values embodied by social entrepreneurship, such as mutual respect, reciprocity, solidarity, common good and respect for the environment.

Submission of abstracts for 30 minute presentations and for poster presentations is now open. See key dates leading up to the conference. Registration for the conference will open later in November.

The conference will take place in the beautiful city of York, UK

 

International Seminar on Solidarity Economy in Helsinki, Finland

From collaborator in the social economy in higher education project, Laura Kumpuniemi

Live stream
You can follow the seminar Reclaiming sustainability – alternative development through solidarity economy on the 17th of November through a live stream. The videos are also available after the seminar through these links.
Part 1 at 13.00 – 15.00 (GMT +2): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3JJb0cPd8NQ
Part 2 at 15.00 – 18:00 (GMT +2): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wovJ-9DAw1E
Solidarity economy is an alternative economic model that focuses on the well-being of both people and the environment. International Solidarity Work organises an international seminar titled Reclaiming sustainability – alternative development through solidarity economy in Helsinki, Finland (Tieteiden talo, Kirkkokatu 6) on the 17 November 2014 at 13.15-18.00 (Finnish time)
In the seminar, visitors from Greece, Brazil, and Syrian Kurdistan Rojava share examples on solidarity economy from their respective countries. There will be a chance to learn about the social economy being built in Rojava’s self-administration, social technologies used to support grassroots solidarity economy initiatives in Brazil, and the solidarity economy movement that has grown in Greece as an outcome of the financial crisis.
The possibilities of solidarity economy have been in discussions in international organisations and many countries have also passed laws regarding solidarity economy. The solidarity economy movement is growing stronger all the time. Welcome to hear why solidarity economy is such an inspiration for many!

PROGRAMME

13.15-13.25 Opening words (Laura Tuominen, International Solidarity Work)
13.25-14.00 Introducing solidarity economy (Tuomo Alhojärvi, Solidarity Economy Network & Ruby Van Der Wekken, Siemenpuu Foundation)
14.00-14.45 Rojava experience of the social economy: reality and prospects (Dr. Ahmad Yousef, Rojava, Syria)
14.45-15.15 Coffee break
15.15-16.15 Social technologies and sustainability (Antonio Cruz, Brazil)
16.15-16.45 Challenges and prospects of the social solidarity economy movement in Greece (Georgia Bekridaki, Greece)
16.45-17.00 Commentary (Outi Hakkarainen, Kepa)
17.00-18.00 Questions and panel discussion
SPEAKERS

Georgia Bekridaki

Georgia Bekridaki has been active in social movements for ten years. She is a founding member of a Greek organisation Solidarity 4 All. The organisation is a collective that gives practical support to various solidarity initiatives. She has also been involved in local time banks and other alternative economy initiatives.

Antonio Cruz

Antonio Cruz has been working on issues related to solidarity economy since the 1990s. He is currently working as a professor at a solidarity economy incubator at the Federal University of Pelotas in Brazil. He has also coordinated the network of Brazilian university incubators.

Ahmad Yousef

Ahmad Yousef is a central figure in building a self-administration and social economy activities in the Syrian Kurdistan, Rojava. He also acts as the finance minister of the canton of Afrin.
Please register your participation for the event by the 10 November.
For registrations and more information, contact:
Project coordinator Laura Kumpuniemi Email: laura. kumpuniemi[at]gmail.com

Universities Developing Social Entrepreneurship through Cross-Sector Collaboration

International conference at York St John University, UK. 1st – 3rd Sept 2015. Mark the dates!

More information on this blog in the coming days

Conference Theme:   

As part of the York St John-led Erasmus Mundus social economy project, the conference aims to address the following question: ‘How can higher education foster interactions between the current economic systems (public, private and social) to promote social entrepreneurship cultures for sustainable development in our communities?’

Now more than ever cross-sector collaboration is essential, because the challenges faced by society can only be tackled successfully if capabilities, resources, effort and knowledge are linked or shared by organisations. Cross-sector collaboration is at the heart of social entrepreneurship cultures which are nurtured by the quality of their relationships. Collaborations are based on the values embodied by social entrepreneurship, such as mutual respect, reciprocity, solidarity, common good and respect for the environment. Universities have a clear and distinctive role in promoting both social entrepreneurship cultures and cross-sector partnerships.

The conference will present a range of studies, research and best practices about cross-sector partnerships which create social value within communities and have a positive impact on developing social entrepreneurship within higher education.

We will soon be inviting abstracts for papers, poster presentations and round tables on the topic.

Social economy is now on EU ministers’ agenda

Press release from ENSIE, the European network of Social Integration Enterprises, an associate partner in the Social Economy in Higher Education project

EU Ministers for employment and social affairs have now started to see the importance of social economy. Discussions on social economy took place for the first time in July at an informal meeting in Milan of the EPSCO Council, under the Italian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

The Council, the European Commission, Member States representatives, social partners and the Social Platform shared their points of view on the social economy, the opportunities it offers and how it needs to be developed.

Mr Poletti, Italy’s Minister for Labour and Social Policies, and Mr Andor, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion both stressed the increasing importance of the social economy sector, especially in this period of crisis. They stated that social economy has positive effects on social cohesion, inclusive growth and on reaching the EU 2020 Strategy headline targets.

Several speakers thanked the Italian Presidency for having put social economy on the agenda. Currently, almost every Member State is working in order to create a ”favourable climate” for social economy enterprises. Nevertheless, challenges remain due to the lack of a clear definition for the social economy and little awareness of the sector in some countries. So some Member States are more advanced in the social economy development, but for others, the topic is quite new. 

Patrizia Bussi, ENSIE’s coordinator, and member of the Social Platform delegation to Milan in tandem with Heater Roy, Social Platform’s President, underlined the urgent need to make a clear distinction between social economy and corporate social responsibility.  They also stressed three other important messages:

·         European Institutions must continue the work launched with the Social Business Initiative to support the recognition and development of social economy and social enterprises;

·         Member States have to unlock the employment potential of social economy, in particular in the social and health services sector;

·         An “ecosystem” for the development of social economy and social enterprise must be created at both EU and national level.

The prospects for the development of social economy at EU and at national level are good. The different European, national, regional and local stakeholders must continue to support this positive process.

The whole Social Platform contribution is available here

Our most visited posts

This blog has now been running for 18 months  It seems a good time to review the most visited posts – those which have received the greatest number of visits and re-tweets. It has been inspiring to receive guest posts from university students and staff and others working for social justice in economic affairs from around the world. Take a look at our visitor map to see where the articles are being read. 

These are the top 4:

Mendoza, Argentina: Economic change through academic, professional and political exchange

Charles Hanks report on the Institute of Work and Production (ITP) at the National University of Cuyo, who are on the axis of a growing social and solidarity economy in the Mendoza province of Argentina. In their efforts to make visible the workings of the third sector by drawing together its academic, professional and political elements, they are also managing to make the sector more credible.

6 ways a university can be a force in the social economy

As well as teaching and researching about social enterprise and cooperatives, it is important that universities explore ways of practicing the social economy. In the case of cooperatives, these lead to sharing of benefits among their members (students and staff) and the development of democratic decision-making and governance. Other forms of social enterprise can lead to more environmentally and/or socially just and sustainable outcomes. In this article we give some examples of the social economy operating on university campuses.

Can universities lead the way in social value procurement? Let’s look at Cleveland, Ohio!

This post argues that universities can promote a new kind of economic development. It discusses the important role universities can play in supporting social enterprise through its procurement policy. It aims to address the issue of local social enterprises not having the capacity to provide what universities need.

Former children’s worker opens social enterprise

This post draws attention to a social enterprise which offers employment and training to young people in a commercial environment on either a full or part-time basis. It was set up by former Children’s Services worker Gill Walker, who wants to help young people by preparing them for a more successful future. Since the article was posted, Labelled has gone from strength to strength and has opened a franchise shop in Newcastle. We hope to feature this on the blog soon.

We have also had a number of guest posts from students and staff at universities around the world.