RiCES members, Prof. Mike Neary and Dr. Joss Winn have been awarded a grant from the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education to study co-operative leadership. Below, are the project aims, take from the project website:
The aim of this research is to explore the possibility of establishing co-operative leadership as a viable organisational form of governance and management for Higher Education. Co-operative leadership is already well established in business enterprises in the UK and around the world (Ridley-Duff and Bull 2016), and has recently been adopted as the organising principle by over 800 schools in the United Kingdom (Wilson 2014). The co-operative movement is a global phenomenon with one billion members, supported by national and international organisations working to establish co-operative enterprises and the promotion of cooperative education. The research is financed by the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education’s small development projects fund.
Higher education in the UK is characterised by a mode of governance based on Vice-Chancellors operating as Chief Executives supported by Senior Management teams. Recent research from the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education on Neo-collegiality in the managerial university (Bacon 2014) shows that hierarchical models of governance alienate and de-motivate staff, failing to take advantage of research-based problem solving skills of staff operating at all levels, not accounting for the advantages to organisations when self-managed professionals interact with peers on matters of common purpose, particularly in knowledge-based industries.
The co-operative leadership model for higher education supports the ambition for more active engagement in decision-making to facilitate the best use of academics’ professional capacities, but framed around a more radical model for leadership, governance and management. Members of the co-operative university would not only be involved directly in decision-making and peer-based processes that make best use of their collective skills, but have equal voting rights as well as collective ownership of the assets and liabilities of the co-operative (Cook 2013). This more radical model builds on work done recently as part of a project funded by the Independent Social Research Foundation to establish some general parameters around which a framework for co-operative higher education could be established (Neary and Winn 2015). One of the key issues emerging from this research is the significance of co-operative leadership – the focus of this research project.
Joss Winn recently gave a keynote talk at Newcastle College’s ‘Student as Producer’ conference. You can read the full script of his talk on his blog.
“Newcastle College should be commended for recognising the need to involve students in the governance of your institution. In your own HE Partnership Strategy you state that “meaningful partnership working is reliant upon the equal distribution of democratic power.” You argue rightly that this isn’t just achieved by listening to the so-called ‘student voice’ but by “empowering students to drive and implement change.” And “this will involve redistributing power across our HE communities up to and including HE Academic Board through engaging students in all stages of the decision making process.” My question to you is how do you intend to constitute this form of democracy. You say that you will embed it “throughout all aspects of the HE learning experience” but what constitutional form will that take and how will you hold each other to account? These are not questions unique to your own stated objectives, but are being asked all the time by people who desire democracy in their work as they do in their politics.
The question I am interested in then, is what steps might we take to reconstitute and transform our institutions into member-run, democratically controlled co-operatives? Institutions that enable us to reflect deeply on the conditions of present day knowledge production and truly put Student as Producer into practice?”
Last month, Dr. Sarah Amsler and Joss Winn presented papers at the EU-funded UNIKE conference: Universities in the knowledge economy: Perspectives from the Asia-Pacific and Europe. Their panel focused on panel focused on ‘Alternative Ways of Thinking the University’ and the overall theme of the conference was as follows:
“What is the place of universities in the emerging ‘ecology’ of higher education systems that straddle industry, government and the public sphere? How are universities negotiating the demands placed upon them to compete in the global knowledge economy? What new subjects and spaces are emerging under the new conditions of existence for universities? How do academics, students, managers and policy makers make sense of these changes? Are there alternative ways of organising the university and its relations with society and if so, where are these being developed?”
You can read Joss’ paper on his blog and read Sarah’s paper here.
May 13th 2015, 3.30-6.30pm. Marconi Building room 104, Anglia Ruskin University, Chelmsford Campus.
Critical Knowledge and Praxis
The seminar will explore the fate of critical knowledge and praxis and how it might have a role in progressive politics and revolutionary struggles against current injustices created and exacerbated by the violence of capitalist abstractions: Money, the State and its other institutional forms, e.g. the neoliberal university.
A key issue for the seminar will be the extent to which it is possible to operate as a critical scholar within a neo-liberal university, and to what extent it is necessary to develop other social institutions to carry through with the implications that form the substance of our work.
Amsler, S. (2014) For feminist consciousness in the academy, Special Issue on Materialist Feminisms against Neoliberalism, Politics and Culture. Sarah’s new book ‘The Education of Radical Democracy‘ will be published in April.
Neary, M. (2014) ‘Making with the University of the Future: pleasure and pedagogy in higher and higher education’. In: J. Lea (Ed.) (2015) Enhancing Learning and Teaching in Higher Education: engaging with the dimensions of practice. Maidenhead: Open University Press.
Winn, J. (2015) The co-operative university: Labour, property and pedagogy. Power and Education, 7 (1).