Cooperative enterprises, in which a business is owned and democratically controlled by the people who work in it or who use its services, are growing in importance in Australia and elsewhere. This subject locates the resurgence of cooperative and mutual models of business in the history and theology that informed the Rochdale pioneers of the 1840s in Britain, the Mondragon federation in the Basque country of Spain from the 1930s, and the housing and childcare cooperatives of Melbourne’s Young Christian Workers from the 1950s. It explores the diverse models of religious community (from monastic to Quaker and Methodist) that have informed the core cooperative principle of democratic governance by member-owners. It examines the historic connection between spiritual values and cooperative business models, as well as their positive impact on social cohesion, potential empowerment of women and minorities, and the economy. In collaboration with Co-operative Bonds and the Business Council of Cooperatives and Mutuals students will develop a business model to establish a new café (or similar enterprise) as a co-operative (designed according to need as either a worker co-operative multi-stakeholder, or consumer cooperative).In the context of the shared practical task of founding a co-operative we will reflect together on what theology and history offer to the process of ensuring hospitality, justice and practical business acumen share the same table.

Unit code: AH9445P

Unit status: Approved (New unit)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Elective

Unit discipline: History

Delivery Mode: Intensive

Proposing College: Pilgrim Theological College

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Learning outcomes


Articulate the values, principles and the distinguishing features of a cooperative business enterprise informed by the heritage of Rochdale, Mondragon and the International Co-operative Alliance


Analyse representative sources across the cooperative movement to identify the impact of both formal theology and lived religious experience;


Articulate the impact of Christian theology and teaching on social justice on the development of worker cooperatives in Australia and internationally;


Develop a business plan for a worker cooperative and articulate the theological principles that inform it


Critically reflect on the experience of developing a cooperative business plan.


Seminars informed by a community of practice

Indicative Bibliography


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

Literature review (2500 words)

5000 60.0
Book Review

Literature review (2500 words)

2500 40.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by Carolyn Alsen on 20 Jul, 2019

Unit record last updated: 2019-09-09 10:11:07 +1000