This year CASC’s annual conference took place in Toronto from May 30 – June 2nd as part of the 2017 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. In line with the theme of this year’s Congress and Canada’s 150th year celebrations, co-operative researchers, practitioners and students gathered at our conference around the theme of “From Far and Wide: Envisioning the Next 150 Years of Co-operation”. The participation to our conference however was not limited to the co-op community in Canada, as we welcomed fellow “co-opers” from the United States, Scotland, Germany, and beyond. Together, we were fortunate to learn from the past of the co-op movement in Canada and beyond, reflect on the movement’s present, and envision a more co-operative future.
Our 2017 conference also featured a special stream: “The New Co-operativism”. This term has been used in recent years to refer to co-operative practices and values that responds to the entrenchment of neoliberalism and its inherent and recurrent crises over the past five decades. These practices and values both challenge the status quo and create alternatives to it have returned with dynamism in recent years. As part of this stream, Dr. Peter Ranis shared, in an international keynote speech, the potential of co-operative values and practices in the face of surging right-wing populism under Trump in the United States.
Other themes that emerged as part of our conference include but are not limited to: gender relations within and beyond co-operatives, co-operative management and leadership, best practices of co-operatives from around the world, and co-operatives and social innovation.
We were also fortunate to have Senator Lucie Moncion deliver the Canadian keynote speech for our 2017 conference. Senator Moncion provided some best case practices from Canada’s co-operative movement and touched upon policy considerations to help with co-op development and effective management.
It was an extreme pleasure to have a great number of student participants in this year’s CASC conference. Several student participated in a case study competition, co-organized by the The Centre for the Study of Co-operatives and CASC, to test their ability to apply concepts from the classroom to real world issues. The cases used in this year’s competition focused on governance or policy issues relevant to co-operatives. Furthermore, numerous students at the graduate level presented very valuable research at the conference and had the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with fellow students, co-op practitioners and more experienced members of academia.
On our final day, in partnership with the Ontario Co-operative Association (ON-Coop) and Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada (CMC), CASC hosted a workshop on promoting strategic engagement between the co-operative sector and institutions of higher education. This forum enabled leaders in the co-operative sector and institutions of higher education to learn more about the work of each other and to reflect on how they might collaborate more closely and effectively.
Please get in contact with us with your feedback about this year’s conference. We are hoping to see you in next year’s CASC conference in Regina!