Professor Karen Stanton, Vice Chancellor
Catalina Quiroz Niño
Enhancing Studies and Practice of the Social Economy in Higher Education
The objectives of the project were to:
- Promote intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding between multi-stakeholders within the field of social and solidarity economy.
- Build a collective knowledge and practice base which encompasses values and experiences from academics, practitioners and students about the social and solidarity economy, from a wide range of geographical areas, through dialogical action.
- Nurture a global movement of people committed to the values and principles of an economy where human well-being is central, through international conferences and virtual means
The three year project submitted to the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency of the European was approved in 2012, one of 6 projects approved out of 70 applications. The backbone to the project was intercultural dialogue between partners from Peru, Spain, Portugal and the UK in order to meet the objectives above. Partners from Bolivia joined the project in its second year.
The 10 academics and practitioners involved from the partner countries had not worked together before the co-writing of the bid application. Due to geographical distances between the partners, there were only 3 face-to-face meetings in three years. Most of the meetings were held virtually, using video conferencing facilities, such as Skype.
This award application refers to three separate and crucial stages of the project to exemplify how facilitation values and methods were used throughout all aspects of the project:
- A face-to-face participatory strategic planning (PSP) meeting at the beginning of the three year project with all partners, which set the approach and style of a facilitative and team leadership.
- The co-creation of a 240-page handbook based on participatory and dialogical focus groups. These were organized in the different geographical regions of the project between academics, students and practitioners from e.g. Cuba, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, UK, to gain a better understanding of the nature and practices of the social and solidarity economy, and to understand how academics in higher education institutions might best respond to this.
- An international conference to nurture a global movement of people committed to the values and principles of an economy where human well-being is central.
This was the first Erasmus Mundus project to be led by York St John, a university of approximately 7,000 students in the north of England.
Key Results Achieved
The project achieved the following results:
- A 240 page handbook was created, in each of English, Spanish and Portuguese, based on face-to-face, dialogical focus groups, e-survey and interviews of practitioners, academics and students within the social and solidarity economy field
- A highly participatory bilingual international conference (103 delegates, 21 countries from 5 continents) including academics, practitioners, policy makers, social entrepreneurs and university students
- An enduring network of project collaborators: academics and other practitioners from diverse cultural and interdisciplinary backgrounds, who are questioning what is being taught in universities and what the rationale is for this, as well as proposing alternative perspectives of ways of organising human affairs, rather than reinforcing the idea that there is no alternative to pursuing profit at all costs.