UMACEC supports student-run businesses on campus, and would like students, faculty, staff, and community members to help us encourage the Chancellor and Administration to promote the development of more student cooperatives. Please read the letter below and sign our Change.org petition to show your support of student-run business!
To: UMass Amherst Community, Students, Faculty, Staff
We ask your support in encouraging Chancellor Subbaswamy and the administration at UMass-Amherst to actively promote the expansion of student-run businesses on campus.
Everyone on campus benefits from the high quality services provided by student-run businesses such as Earthfoods, People’s Market, Campus Design and Copy, Greeno’s Subs, Bike Coop, Sylvan Snack Bar, and Sweets and More. In addition, these businesses provide invaluable training for students who take on responsibilities for democratic self-management, learn business and fiscal literacy and serve as an incubator for the expansion of worker co-operative businesses in the local community.
The student-run businesses are jewels in the crown of our UMass-Amherst campus, enhancing its image as a center of social and economic innovation. They are complemented by new and expanding curricula on worker ownership, sustainable agriculture, and local food production. Our Certificate program in the Economics of Cooperative Enterprises (www.umasscec.org) offers students the opportunity to combine research and on-the-job experience in research internships that are sponsored by the Valley Alliance of Worker Co-operatives (VAWC, www.valleyworker.org.) and the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA, www.nfca.coop) VAWC currently supports eleven member worker co-ops in western Massachusetts and southern Vermont with 70+ worker members earning $7.4 million in annual revenue and $35,000 in charitable donations to our community. NFCA has 25+ member food co-ops in western New England with 80,000 members, 1,450 employees and $200 million in annual revenue.
Sadly, however, the number of student-run businesses has not expanded for some time, despite considerable opportunities offered by the renovation of the student union, the establishment of a library coffee shop, and the new Commonwealth College residential area.
With these reasons, we urge you to encourage the Administration at the University of Massachusetts Amherst to increase support of Student Run Businesses on campus. Student initiative is not lacking—the Center for Student Business has received several proposals for new enterprises. What seems to be lacking is both space for such enterprises to set up shop and—more fundamentally—a commitment to actively promote new student initiatives, perhaps because they do not generate as much direct revenue for the university as more conventional for-profit businesses.
Please help us make the case that student-run businesses offer important direct and indirect benefits for the campus community, by signing our petition asking Chancellor Subbaswamy and the Administration to support their expansion. Click here to view our Change.org petition in support of student cooperatives.
The UMass Amherst Cooperative Enterprise Collaborative
Econ 397CS: The Economics of Cooperatives will be offered again this Fall! Enroll via Spire or contact the instructor. This is a great opportunity to take a small, participatory class that relies less on mathematics and abstract theory, but rather emphasizes the real-world applications of workplace democracy. Students get to meet with local cooperatives, design their own business plans, and have the opportunity to continue in the internship and certificate program!
Check out students reflecting on the Certificate in Applied Economic Research for Cooperative Enterprises and the Econ 397 course on the Economics of Cooperatives:
We will be showing Shift Change on April 16th @ 6pm in Machmer W-11. Here is the Facebook invite!
Did you know the Campus Center UMass Amherst is named for a Cooperative Hall of Fame-r?
“The Center is named after Murray D Lincoln who was president of the National Cooperative Business Association from 1941 to 1965, and as a board member of the International Cooperative Alliance, Murray D. Lincoln was a dynamic spokesman for cooperatives in every sphere. He led in forming economic associations – the Ohio Farm Bureau Cooperative Association, an agricultural credit association, a rural electric association, and what is now the Nationwide Insurance organization. As longtime Nationwide president he moved the organization into many areas of people’s needs.”
Read more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murray_D._Lincoln_Campus_Center
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Registration for Spring 2012 is officially underway! The popular Econ397EC– Economics of Cooperative Enterprises– will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4-5:15 pm. Prerequisites: Econ 103 or 104, or permission from Professor Jerry Friedman. (Though he’s not officially teaching the course this Spring, he’s kindly offered to be the contact person until the instructor is finalized.)
Course syllabus from this fall can be found here.
This weekend, UMass hosted the third conference of the International Confederation of Associations for Pluralism in Economics (ICAPE). The theme: Rethinking economics in a time of economic distress. Especially relevant to UMass Econ’s new certificate program were discussions around economic democracy in the classroom and community. Click here to download the conference program.
Women’s co-ops & peace-building in Nepal
On Saturday morning, Smita Ramnarain gave an extremely informative talk about women’s cooperatives, gender & “bottom-up” peace-building in Nepal. In 2008-2009, Ramnarain worked on a project called Developing Democracy in Nepal which was funded by the Canadian Co-operative Association and CIDA. In addition to forming women’s savings and credit cooperatives, the DDN project included advocacy & voter education campaigns. Ramnarain’s findings, via methodological awesomeness (case study analysis, interviews, evaluation reports, training materials, Hamro Aviyan documents, and her own research on women’s cooperatives):
women’s cooperatives in Nepal…
Overall, a fascinating presentation. Click to download powerpoint slides from a talk Smita gave in September on women’s co-ops & peace-building in Nepal.
Roundtable on worker ownership
This morning, Erik Olsen chaired a roundtable called “Worker Cooperatives, Employee Ownership and New Strategies for a Pluralist Economy.” Joining Olsen in conversation were Al Campbell, Christopher Gunn, Gar Alperovitz, and David Schweickart.
It was a fruitful conversation about the role of co-ops and ESOPs in democratizing the work process & people’s lives. Christopher Gunn talked about Mondragon within the context of community development, and made a case for investing in resources that encourage affective activity (i.e. caring for children and elders; consuming less, having more free time). Gar Alperowitz talked about the stabilizing effects of community-based institutions partnering with local government, with examples from Cleveland, Columbus, and other US cities. David Schweickart focused on the transition to democratic capital and labor — what the US might try and what we can learn from Sweden. Al Campbell talked about the importance of solidarity, and creating space for folks to respect each other even when they might disagree. He praised Mondragon’s training programs for this sort of skill-building.
After the roundtable, Mary Hoyer and Julie Matthaei contributed immensely to the discussion. Hoyer astutely pointed out the importance of diversity if a democratic economy is to be representative. And that goes for panels, too! Matthaei highlighted the commonalities between affective activity and the work that’s come from the feminist and green movements around care labor & shrinking the carbon footprint. A fantastic quote from Matthaei (but I might not have copied it perfectly): “In the 1970s, consciousness-raising was done after work. Now, co-ops themselves are consciousness-raising.” Matthaei noted the connection between movements and values in why she loves the solidarity economy: shared values (i.e. feminist, anti-discrimination, anti-racist, etc) but not a one-size-fits-all prescription.
Alperowitz recommends www.community-wealth.org for more information on community wealth-building.
Mary Hoyer mentioned a new Chamber of Commerce in the Pioneer Valley that’s geared toward co-ops. [edit: it’s the Valley Co-operative Business Association, and here’s the link!]
For more info on the Solidarity Economy, check out the US Solidarity Economy Network.
Paul Hawken’s book, Blessed Unrest, came up in conversation.