22 SES 05.5 PS, General Poster Session
General Poster Session
Main research questions
- How can people-centred models of the economy worldwide be understood?
- How can they be effectively embedded into higher education curricula?
This research is part of a European Union Erasmus Mundus three-year project called ‘Enhancing studies and practice of social economy and social capital in higher education’. It is being carried out by an international, multidisciplinary team lead by York St John University, UK and including partners from Spain, Portugal and Peru and associate partners worldwide.
The project aims to gain an in-depth understanding of the social economy system in order to promote the study and practice of this field in higher education. A handbook will be created that will inform curriculum designers in higher education institutions who are interested in developing courses about social economy at their universities.
This paper will discuss latest findings from the empirical research and report issues arising from the research methods in a worldwide context. It will consider how these will begin to inform the development of the handbook for higher education curriculum design.
What is the social economy?
The model developed by Pearce (2003) has been taken as a basis and adapted by the York St John Consortium, making it relevant to rural economies within Africa and Latin America, as well as to those of industrial, urban societies. The emphasis is on a free economy which embraces values such as solidarity, reciprocity and democracy. It is understood in different ways throughout the world, but has recognisable features. In Europe it takes forms such as co-operatives, mutual societies, charities that trade and social entrepreneurship. In Latin America it is known as solidarity economy. It has no identifying name known to the Consortium in Africa and yet is the basis of much economic activity.
This project has research at its heart. It aims to understand a variety of models of the social economy worldwide. Research will be carried out between May 2013 – May 2014 to gain an understanding of a range of models. This new knowledge, as well as existing conceptual understandings and practical examples will be developed into a reference handbook for higher education.
Why is the study important?
The economic downturn following the banking crisis of 2008 raises serious questions about how higher education addresses and perpetuates the limitations of a specific economic model and values which have proved to be highly damaging to society. This project aims to make visible the invisible sector of the social economy, to gain an in-depth knowledge of the nature, origins and practice of a people-centred economic approach, with its own values framework, thinking and behavioural model. It is innovative in its funding model (co-funded by European Union and a South American university research fund) and in its desire to bring existing but unrecognised ideas and models of organising economic activity to the education arena.
Miles, M. and Huberman, M (1994) Qualitative Data Analysis: An Expanded Sourcebook. London, Sage Pearce, J. (2003) Social Enterprises in Anytown. London. Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
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