Tom Woodin kindly invited me to speak to my report Realising the Cooperative University at the Institute of Education, which I did last night, following the eminent Stephen Yeo and the redoubtable Mervyn Wilson.
A copy of my slides is available here: Co-operative University Presentation 12/12/2013
It was a great opportunity to share the work I had done, and certainly engendered a good debate.
in retrospect I probably said too much about the legal, financial and governance aspects of the report, and not enough about the values, the questionnaire and the possible futures for the Cooperative University. Even so, the necessary and sufficient definition of a Cooperative University is a sensible place to begin.
I am always impressed by the excitement and interest that the topic of a Co-operative University generates. Tonight was no different. However, the nature of the debate impressed on me that there is some distance to travel before a manifesto or business plan for a genuinely Co-operative university could be developed. Nonetheless, yesterday’s debate brought a few questions to the fore for me:
1) What is the contribution of the disciplines to co-operation? Can we map it and expand it?
2) what would a cooperative education strategy look like?
3) the moral and intellectual case for a cooperative university could be written in an afternoon. I suspect that the setting of objectives and the development of a business plan would not proceed so smoothly. How do we make the administrative side of the cooperative university part of the intellectual project?
4) The language of money seemed like anathema to many in the room. That’s okay if the plan is to start small, but if we want a cooperative university that can pay decent wages, we need to accept that capital does not a Capitalist make. Where are all the co-operative economists?
5) The notion of a Trust University is a great one. is it truly co-operative, though, or a reinvention of a different idea – the university as a commons? It sit sensible to rely on a legal formula to protect the identity and purpose of a university? Could the enlightened self interest of a co-operative equally protect the great civilising project of the university?
6) What kind of compelling case can we make for a massive research project that will allow us to build the intellectual and business case for cooperation in higher education?