Applying the Cooperative Model to Higher Education

Dear Professor Wolff, I have enjoyed your radio broadcasts immensely, especially the ones concerning worker co-ops and, as an adjunct professor myself, the perils facing our system of higher education. Combining these two issues, I wonder if any significant work has been done on the possibility of applying the democratic, cooperative model of industry to the enterprise of college and university education. Would a college that is run entirely by educators who are not managed and ultimately exploited by overpaid administrators, shareholders, trustees, etc. be viable? Thanks, Justin Harmon

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Not only viable but already existing in various degrees with more efforts forming all the time. Universities began centuries ago as collectives of teachers. They work best when handled that way now, when small enough to enable the kind of relationships to develop among students and teachers that make education all it can be. Even today, ruins of once collective university departments punctuate the shift to a more capitalist employer-employee model with adjuncts positioned as employees more than regular professors. A self-conscious movement for higher education reform would/should/could include demands for cooperative structures of teaching, governance of the university, and student cooperatives for learning would be integral as well.


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  • responded with submitted 2016-11-14 20:48:20 -0500
  • published this page in Ask Prof. Wolff 2016-11-14 15:09:41 -0500

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