Energizing Communities: Co-operatives Nurturing Democratic Practice!

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1 June, 2016 to 3 June, 2016

Joint Conference of the Canadian Association for Studies in Co-operation (CASC) and the Association of Cooperative Educators (ACE)

Canadian Association for Studies in Co-operation (CASC) and the Association of Cooperative Educators (ACE)The theme of the 2016 CASC/ACE Congress, Energizing Communities, encapsulates in a sense what co-operatives do. Cooperatives have historically arisen from communities, channelling their energy to meet collective needs. As organizations, co-operatives build community among their own members, as well as engaging with larger communities in relations of mutual support. What has been distinctive about the relationship within cooperatives and between co-operatives and communities is the co-operative principles which underlie these relationships, especially the commitment to democratic practice. The commitment of co-operatives to democracy – across economic, political, social, and cultural practices and institutions – is essential in creating and sustaining vibrant communities in which all members can actively and fully (equally) participate. Energizing communities through democratic practice, however, is challenging. Co-operatives engage in a wide range of activities in a variety of institutional arrangements. How (and even whether) democracy should be practiced in this diversity of contexts is not always immediately evident. A variety of questions are involved, including the recurring issues of whether there are trade-offs and/or tensions between the practice of democracy and other co-operative values and the promotion of desired outcomes. During this joint conference we hope to examine these broader questions in a variety of specific contexts and gain deeper insights into the practice of democracy by cooperatives and how it might more effectively promote the communities in which we want to live.

Sub-themes - Specific sessions within the conference will be organized around themes. Below is a list of conference themes and some of the topics that might be addressed under these themes.

Co-operatives, Democracy and Education

  • Co-operatives as sites of democratic education
  • The relationship between co-operative participation and member political engagement
  • The role of co-operative education within the formal education system

Democracy within Co-operative Enterprises

  • Democracy and co-operative boards
  • Injecting democracy into management structures and practices
  • Collective entrepreneurship as democratic practice
  • Financial accountability as democratic practice
  • Intergenerational cooperation
  • Democratic practice within co-operative associations
  • Democratic practice with co-operative networks
  • Co-operatives, democracy and business relations

Co-operative Development

  • Co-operative development for community and economic development
  • Developing co-operatives in increasingly diverse communities
  • Curriculum for co-operative start-ups

Co-operatives, Democracy and Engaged Communities

  • Co-operative and the promotion of civic engagement
  • Co-operatives as social actors
  • Co-operatives, culture and democracy

Co-operatives, Government and Policy

  • Co-operatives and public policy
  • Co-operative involvement in political alliances and coalitions
  • Co-operatives as counter-weight to corporate political influence


As the conference is being held as part of the Annual Congress of Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences (CFHSS) 2016, registration will occur on the CFHSS website.

Contact Information: Sarah Pike, pike at ace.coop

The Canadian Association for Studies in Co-operation (CASC) and the Association of Cooperative Educators (ACE)
University of Calgary
Calgary  Alberta
Organizational Development
Research & Development