Workshop – Governance for Co-operative Higher Education

To-date, seventy people have volunteered to participate in our ISRF-funded project. Below is the outline for the second workshop that was sent to those people who said they wanted to attend. We hope to post summary notes from each workshop before the following workshop.

Social Science Centre, Lincoln: Independent Social Research Foundation Project

Workshop – Governance for Co-operative Higher Education

Venue: Croft Street Community Centre, Lincoln, LN2 5AX.

Date: 17th July, 2015, 10am – 4pm

This workshop will attempt to identify an appropriate governance framework for co-operative higher education. The framework will seek to support and extend the pedagogic principles that were developed out of the first workshop, based on the idea of ‘student as producer’. A summary of what was achieved in the first workshop will be presented to you at the start of the day.

Much of the literature on co-operative higher education has so far identified three different ‘routes’: 1) Conversion (of an existing university); 2) Dissolution (of an existing university into a de facto co-operative; 3) Creation (of a new co-operative form of higher education). This research project focuses on the ‘creation’ route. We want this to be an opportunity to fundamentally rethink the way we govern our universities and the role that academics, students, administrators, catering staff, cleaners, and others take responsibility for their organisation. In fact, we want to fundamentally rethink these roles in the first instance and question how valid and useful this ‘division of labour’ would be in a co-operative university. We don’t want to pre-empt your ideas, except to make sure that at this stage they are unbounded in terms of the organisations we create for the social production of knowledge and meaning.

We have suggested a structure for the Governance workshop, together with a number of key issues to be addressed and some reading material. An important principle of the work we are doing together is that it should involve collaboration and co-operation at all stages, so we are very keen for your suggestions as to how the workshop should be organised as well as important matters you feel need to be discussed, together with suggestions for further reading.


Key suggested themes to be addressed at this workshop to include:

  • The relationship between the pedagogical relationship and the democratic governance of the organisation. How do the social relationships formed in research, teaching and learning map to the way the organisation is governed?
  • Who are the co-operative’s members/stakeholders? What is the power relation between them and how does it translate to a model of democratic governance?
  • How large should the co-operative university be? What are the problems associated with higher education institutions that typically have 10,000-20,000 students and thousands of academic and administrative staff? How would a co-operative university scale?
  • What governance practices from other co-operatives can we usefully apply in co-operative higher education?
  • What governance practices in existing universities might be compatible with a co-operative model?


Some reading is suggested to inform your thinking about these issues before coming to the workshop:

Committee of University Chairs (2014) The Higher Education Code of Governance.

Cook, Dan (2013) Realising the Co-operative University.

Winn, Joss (2015) The Co-operative University: Labour, property and pedagogy, Power and Education, 7 (1).


You will be assigned to a syndicate during the workshop. Please work in this syndicate throughout the day. You will be working on one or more of the issues raised above as well as other issues that arise. There will be plenty of opportunity for interacting with participants from other syndicates.

10.00 – 10.15 Coffee

1015 – 10.30 Aims for the day

10.30 – 11.00 Presentation – From pedagogy to governance (summary of previous workshop outcomes)

11- 1230 Syndicate working on themes – with coffee

12.30 – 13.00 Feedback to full session

13.00 – 13.45 Lunch

13.45 – 15.00 Continue with themes in syndicates

1500 Feedback to full session

1545 – 16.00 Wrap up and action planning

Online Focus Group

We are organising an online focus group for those of you who cannot attend the workshop. This will be on 23rd July 19.00 – 21.00 BST. More details will follow on how to join the online focus group. Please let us know if you wish to join it instead of this workshop.