Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Cooperative Responses to Global Challenges

Background and Objectives

Modern societies are confronted with challenging decisions about their future. In a globalizing world setting the right priorities about economic growth, the design and reform of democracy, the issue of human rights and ecosystem management are becoming increasingly complex.  The ways in which we design organizations and craft the rules for making them effective will be of crucial importance for shaping our future.

The focal point of this conference is the cooperative idea as a design principle and the ways in which it is implemented in practice. The United Nations General Assembly has declared 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives highlighting the positive responses of cooperatives to global challenges, with emphasis on sustainable development, eradication of poverty, and the stabilization of livelihoods in various economic sectors in urban and rural areas.

This conference brings together leading academics, practitioners, advisors, and political decision-makers. Our aim is to critically discuss, collect the evidence and demonstrate the capabilities of cooperatives to respond to global challenges. The event is meant to provide an interdisciplinary platform for setting the research agenda in the field of cooperative studies beyond the year 2012. Conference themes tackle the most commonly discussed types of global challenges and related areas of research. 

The program comprises two high-ranking keynote addresses followed by a sequence of plenum and parallel sessions, complemented by two podium discussions, a poster session and a best practice exhibition. Results will be summarized in a session at the end of the event. Selected paper contributions will be published in a peer-reviewed journal. The following preliminary session titles are meant to guide the submission of abstracts:

Themes (preliminary selection)

•    The role and performance of cooperatives in economic crises
•    Cooperatives and SMEs development
•    Cooperatives in poverty alleviation and micro-finance
•    Cooperatives in rural service provision
•    Cooperatives and producer organizations in the food value chain
•    Approaches to cooperative start-ups
•    Energy reform and energy cooperatives
•    Cooperatives in environmental services
•    Categorizing and theorizing cooperatives and the issue of governance
•    Women and cooperatives – a gender perspective
•    Cooperative and the management of natural resources
•    Policies promoting cooperatives
•    Cooperatives in the classroom, capacity building and education
•    Demographic change and cooperatives
•    New types of cooperatives