Discussion Course on Cooperatives

Does your co-op have members that would like to learn more about cooperative economy, history, and philosophy? Are they interested in finding out about different cooperative models and the industries in which they are applied? Are they curious as to how people in other parts of the world organize into cooperatives? Do they wonder if there is a cooperative solution to economic challenges in your community?

If you answer yes to these questions then your co-op would greatly benefit from starting a discussion course on cooperatives!

What is the Discussion Course?

The Discussion Course on Cooperatives is a group-education tool for people who would like to become familiar with cooperative economics, history and philosophy. The Course is designed as a tool for Outreach to Co-op Members, to be used to facilitate greater participation in the Co-op community. The discussion format is centered around carefully selected readings made accessible through a concisely planned anthology. The short readings and lively interpersonal discussions make it the ideal learning environment for busy people who would like to maximize their educational experience. The course is also very inexpensive and is facilitated by the discussion course participants themselves.

The discussion course model is a fun and innovative way for co-ops to engage people in co-operative education. This co-op discussion course is modeled after the discussion courses developed by the NorthWest Earth Institute in Portland Oregon.

How does it work?

Six to 12 people meet weekly for about two hours to discuss the short readings from a chapter in the course book. The chapters are no more than 20 pages long and are made up of short articles, essays and excerpts from books. The chapters include questions and practical suggestions which are meant to encourage dialogues among the participants and inspire engagement in cooperative activity.

Participants take turns facilitating the discussions. There are eight chapters so ideally eight different people will take a turn leading the group. A second person who is not leading the group that day is encouraged to do a little research or otherwise bring some related bit of art or inspiration to share at the beginning of the session. The first session is lead by the most experienced cooperator in the group. This free-flowing yet structured format is meant to encourage community, trust and mutual respect in the context of personal enrichment while appreciating differences in perspective.

$10/book, plus shipping, for CGN members
$15/book, plus shipping, for non CGN members

Includes delivery confirmation (U.S. shipping only). Estimates are approximations.
1 book – $3.57
2-4 books – $5
5-9 books – $7
10-14 books – $9
15-20 books – $11
Additional shipping charges will apply for outside U.S. shipping.

You’ll want to order one copy for each participant. Send the following information to admin@cooperativegrocer.coop and someone will be in touch with you to confirm the information and payment process:

Contact first name and last name
E-mail address
Shipping address
Number of manuals

You will be invoiced via email with options to pay online or by check. Once payment has been received the books will be shipped to the provided shipping address.

Chapter 1: Co-op Origins and History

  • History of the Rochdale Cooperative, Ronald Kumon
  • Ideological Roots of the Worker Cooperative Movement, John Curl
  • The Cooperative Legacy of Toyohiko Kagawa, David Thompson
  • Co-opertive Heritage: Where We’ve Come From, Brett Fairbairn
  • On the Shoulders of Giants, Martin Lowry
  • Food Systems in the 60’s and 70’s, John Curl

Chapter 2: Co-op Principles, Values and Philosophy

  • The Co-op Values: Their Meaning and Practical Significance, Sid Pobihushchy
  • Cooperative Principles Updated, Ann Hoyt
  • The Ten Cooperative Principles, Roy Morrison
  • Historic Foundations of Cooperative Philosophy, Greg Lawless
  • Social Movements and Cooperatives: Implications for History and Development, Brett Fairbairn
  • Have the Principles Enabled a Cooperative Advantage? Johnston Birchall

Chapter 3: Cooperative Models

  • Cooperatives in South Africa: Their Role in Job Creation and Poverty Reduction, Kate Phillip
  • Cooperatives, Steve Bodin
  • Weaver Street Market at Ten, Ruffin Slater

Chapter 4: Cooperative Industry Sectors

  • Excerpt from Cooperatives and the Millenium Development Goals, Johnston Birchall
  • When the Lights Came On, Dan Campbell
  • Co-op Devolution Parts I and II, Dave Gutknecht
  • Technology, Free Speech and Eggplant, Lisa Stolarski

Chapter 5: Successful Co-ops Around the World

  • Cooperating Out of Poverty, Cooperative Reform in Tanzania, Andrew Bibby
  • US Credit Unions Buck Global Demutualization Trend, ICA Digest
  • Mondragon Cooperative Experience in the Basque Region, Sean Doyle
  • Fair Trade Farmers in Nicaragua, Global Exchange
  • Co-op Kanagawa, Yu Shibata

Chapter 6: Cooperative Responses to Globalization

  • My Saudi Arabian Breakfast, Chad Heeter
  • Framework for Globalization, Chris Frost
  • The Post Corporate World, David Korten
  • Eleven Rules of Corporate Behavior, Gerry Mander
  • Biopiracy: The Theft of Knowledge and Resources, Vandana Shiva
  • Cohesion, Consumerism and Cooperatives, Brett Fairbairn
  • About the International Forum on Globalization, IFG website
  • The Role of Cooperatives in Providing Local Answers to Globalization, Mark Levin
  • Abolish Corporate Personhood, Jan Edwards and Molly Morgan

Chapter 7: Creating the Cooperative Future

  • As Always, the Future is Now, Dave Gutknecht
  • Cooperative Democracy, More Relevant Than Ever, Iain MacDonald
  • Excerpt from Cooperatives and the Millennium Development Goals, Johnston Birchall
  • Another World is Possible, Cynthia Peters
  • Co-op as Store Becomes Co-op as Community, Mark Goehring

Chapter 8: A Legal Perspective on Co-ops

  • A Friendly Guide to Consumer Coopertives From a Legal Perspective, Donald Kreis
  • Annotated Sample Consumer Cooperative Bylaws, Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society
  • Policy Governance Source Document, John and Miriam Carver

Thanks to the East End Food Co-op’s Board of Director’s for sponsoring this wonderful project and Lisa Stolarski for coordinating the project, as well as all the volunteers that helped to create the book. It was really a labor of love.

To view more information about the Discussion Course, click the following links:
Introduction by Ann Hoyt
Instructions for success discussion groups

Thank you
In ways great and small, the following wonderful people are making this discussion course a reality:
Lisa Stolarski, Director, Co-op Education, East End Food Co-op
Michael Q. Roth, President, East End Food Co-op
Cris Amann, Vice President, East End Food Co-op
Rob Shepherd, Secretary, East End Food Co-op
Dirk Kalp, Treasurer, East End Food Co-op
Rececca Reid, Director, Member Linkage, East End Food Co-op
Jane Harter, Human Resources, East End Food Co-op
Rob Baran, GM, East End Food Co-op
Karen Bernard, Member-Owner, East End Food Co-op
Jeffrey C. Honnold, Member-Owner, East End Food Co-op
Don Kreis, President, Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society
Tom Strong, President, Sevananda Food Co-op
Peg Nolan, National Cooperative Grocer’s Association
Mark Goehring, Cooperative Development Services
Michael Healy, Cooperative Development Services
Jacob Myers, President, Weaver Street Market
Chuck Hungerford, President, New Leaf Market
Laura Milkowitz, President, Hendersonville Co-op
Trent Smith, President, Tidal Creek Co-op
Tay Halas, Board member, Deep Roots Co-op
Richard Normand, Board member, Roanoke Natural Foods
Leslie Terry, Board Member, Three Rivers Market
Diane Rhodes, Board Member, Hendersonville Co-op
David Weintraub, Board Member, Hendersonville Co-op
Darcel Eddins, Board Member, French Broad Natural Food Co-op
Dave Gutknecht, Editor, The Cooperative Grocer
Ann Hoyt, University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives
Liz Daniels, Board Clerk, East End Food Co-op
Jessica Johnson, Board Clerk, East End Food Co-op
Mike Collura, Board Member, East End Food Co-op
Dan Danlinger, Board Member, East End Food Co-op
Tom Webb, MMCCU Program, Saint Mary’s University
David Thompson, Twin Pines Cooperative Foundation
William Nelson, The Cooperative Foundation
Leslie Meade, Association of Cooperative Educators
Elaine Drinnan, Director, Outpost Natural Foods