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Social and Solidarity Economy

Social and Solidarity Economy

A York St John led Erasmus Mundus project creating a network where academics and diverse practitioners question the role of universities.

If universities are to remain relevant to society they need to review their ethos, purpose and curricula.

To this end, the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) project has created a network where academics and practitioners from diverse cultural and interdisciplinary backgrounds question the role of universities as if people mattered. They are committed to studying, practising and researching people-centred economies to inform curriculum design.

What is the social economy?

In the Erasmus Mundus social and solidarity economy project, social/solidarity economy organisations/enterprises were considered to be those that:

  • Give priority to people over capital (capital is a means and not an end).
  • Aim to serve their members or the community as a whole, instead of striving for financial profit alone.
  • Are catalytic organizations for employment creation and/or self-employment.
  • Are neither private businesses nor public agencies.
  • Are market and trading oriented.
  • Have democratic governance, where decision making process involves users, workers and beneficiaries.
  • Are based on principles such as: participatory governance, solidarity and caring for human resources, sustainability of natural resources, individual and collective responsibility and accountability for outcomes.
  • Use profits to further the social aims of the enterprise for sustainable development and for the common good.
  • It is sometimes known as the economy for common good. It includes the parts of the not-for-profit sector which involve trading, such as social enterprises and co-operatives.

Learn about the project

Member of cooperative bank Jesus meza Sanchez standing in a group


Enhancing studies and practice of the social and solidarity economy - a reference handbook.

People having a discussion at a conference.

Conference 2015

International bilingual (English/Spanish) conference, 2015 - presentations and notes.

Two women talking


Posts about the social and solidarity economy from around the world.

Social Economy project consortium

Project partners were from universities in the UK, Bolivia, Spain, Peru and Portugal. Learn more about the consortium by expanding the menu below.

Catalina Quiroz Niño and Margaret Meredith

York St John is a civic university with roots going back to the 1840s. It is committed to the provision of excellent, open and progressive higher education that embraces difference, challenges prejudice and promotes justice, and is shaped by York St John's Church foundation. It aims to extend and deepen its external contribution regionally, nationally and globally. Within the Business School York St John courses embed principles of corporate social responsibility and sustainability.

Created on March 1st, 1962 by a brief Election of Pope Innocente XII given in Rome, Santa Maria La Mayor and ratified by King Carlos II of Spain by royal decree named EXEQUATUR in Madrid on June 1st, 1692.

Currently it has 21 faculties, 41 professional careers, 29 academic departments, 12 master courses and 2 doctoral programs, it is the fourth largest public university in Peru and hosts 16, 347 undergraduate students and about 1,300 graduate students.

It also has a postgraduate school, an Institute of Systems, offering various computer courses, a language center that provides language teaching in English, French, Italian, Portuguese and Quechua. It also has a pre-university centre for secondary school graduates and a complementary Academic Program for Teachers, which allows them access to Bachelor of Education Degree.

Under the University Act in force in the country and other normative documents for internal management that allow proper academic and administrative progress, the Research Vicerrectorado has been created. This office is responsible for improving basic, strategic and applied research, technology transfer and scientific innovation.

Through the project 'Enhancing Social Studies and Practice of Economy and Social Capital in Higher Education', the university will develop a unique research in Peru using CANON funding adapting the reality of the country to study a curriculum that can incorporate these issues of vital importance to the region and country.

Miguel Filipe Silva and La Salete Coelho

The Centre for African Studies of the University of Porto (CEAUP) was founded in 1997, and since then it has been a Research and Development Unit financed by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology. CEAUP is a multidisciplinary and multicultural space, gathering a diverse group of researchers, professors, students and institutions, from Portuguese, African and Latin-American backgrounds and from several fields of social and human sciences, including Education and Development Studies, fundamental and applied research mainly on Africa and the 'Global South'. CEAUP has been a Non-Governmental Organization for Development since 2007, and its core is to provide technical and scientific support to Portuguese NGDOs.

Since 1999 CEAUP has published a scientific review, Africana Studia, as well as other publications related to the issues studied in the Centre.

Saioa Arando

MIK (Mondragon Innovation & Knowledge) is a research center dedicated to the specialized management of social and organizational innovation. It is located in Oñati and Irun (Gipuzkoa, Spain) and is part of the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation and Mondragon University. Mondragon Corporation is the biggest cooperative experience in the world, employing more than 83,000 employees. Its business philosophy is contained in its corporate values:

  • Co-operation
  • Participation
  • Social Responsibility
  • Innovation

The corporation's mission combines the core goals of a business organisation competing on international markets with the use of democratic methods in its business organisation, the creation of jobs, the human and professional development of its workers and a pledge to development within its social environment.

MIK is also part of Mondragon University, which is a young university, open to the world, ready to face the future with a cooperative character that stands out from its origins because of its close relationship with the business world and innovation. Mondragon University is closely linked to the labour market, in order to shape the training offer according to the enterprises' and organisations' needs.

Dra. Ma.Esther Pozo

Dr Carlos Crespo

The Social and Solidarity Economy project was highly commended in the UK Times Higher Education International Collaboration of the Year category in 2013.