What are we talking about? What are the challenges?


Education about the social solidarity economy (SSE) is a critical part of RIPESS’s capacity building strategy. We seek to engage people at many different levels including community education, grassroots and labor organizing, training for practitioners and SSE development organizations, as well as in schools and colleges.

We know that there is already a wealth of SSE education going on, much of which is focused on sectors (eg. cooperatives, credit unions, social currencies, etc). However, in much of this sectoral education, the big picture framework of the solidarity economy is lacking. Thus there is a critical need to bring together SSE Educators in order to continue to strengthen our collective capacity and impact.


Where are the gaps?

We conducted a survey of SSE Educators that included the question, “Where do you think there are gaps in SSE education?“  which identified the following challenges:

  • There isn’t much curriculum that is specifically about the solidarity economy, as opposed to sectors such as cooperatives.
  • There is a lack of trainers in general as well as those who can help develop businesses/ways to create a sustainable living.
  • Lack of curriculum that is aligned with RIPESS perspective which leaves SSE open to being defined in questionable ways.
  • There is little SSE education at all levels of formal education as well as community level programs/schools/academies. There’s a need for programs that provide hands on experience.
  • How to engage on the community level and make SSE education accessible?
  • How to integrate universities in the eco-system for SSE?
  • There is a general lack of accreditation.

The survey also identified some gaps in topics or for particular audiences:

  • SSE curriculum for members of farmers/workers organizations with limited formal education
  • The nature of money as debt and the consequences of that for the individual and society
  • Cross sectoral (co-ops and climate change…) materials

The survey lifted up some elements that a basic core SSE Curriculum could include:

  • Common definition(s) of SSE, theoretical framework and sustainable development
  • Criteria and standards of performance, evaluation and impact studies
  • Develop participatory exercises that enable content to be elicited from the local level.
  • Case studies from around the world
  • Interactive online trainings/education


What international strategies? (RIPESS actions)


The SSE Education initiative was set up by RIPESS members on an intercontinental scale:
To build and strengthen connections and common vision amongst SSE Educators for mutual support, exchange and collaboration.

  • To share experiences, best practices, tools and curriculum.
  • To identify areas of SSE education that are under or undeveloped and develop resources to fill the gaps.
  • To discuss strategies to advance education about the SSE, communities and among practitioners/SSE development groups.
  • To lay the foundation for a RIPESS SSE Forum/School through the development of a curriculum that contains a common core that can be supplemented by localized material.



Given the SSE’s focus on community driven economic development, the primary focus of this SSE Education Initiative is to gather people involved in grassroots SSE education.

A secondary, but inter-related focus is to promote the solidarity economy as an alternative to the mainstream (neoclassical) model of the economy in schools. Many of the people involved with SSE Education are working in colleges and universities and are already engaged in providing and spreading this alternative economic framework.


Educational approach

We lift up the alignment between SSE and popular education in which learning is part of a process of action, reflection and transformation for human liberation. Popular education recognizes that we are all teachers and we are all learners. In this spirit, we seek to develop curriculum that is appropriate across different cultures, histories and realities. We believe that there is a foundation of common understanding as reflected in the RIPESS Global Vision document. Beyond this foundation of common understanding, our intent is to develop a curriculum that builds in participatory exercises in order to elicit the perspectives, experiences, expertise of local realities.

Since 2014, the SSE Education Working Group has been been working on an intercontinental basis. It is a work in progress carried by SSE Educators on a volunteer basis.

RIPESS and its continental members is engaging with various other national / continental / international networks that are working on SSE Education to ensure synergies and support inter-continental and inter-sectorial exchanges. These collaborations include the Synergia Summer Institute, the Social Economy Project Consortium and the Campaign for a Global SSE Curriculum


If you are interested in participating somehow on that topic, please let us know: info@ripess.org

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Some accomplishments


  • Webinars with SSE Educators

We planned to organize two webinars in each of the three languages (English, French and Spanish) to share experiences, successes and challenges with a mix from the US, Canada, Quebec, and the U.K. A list of SSE Educators has been set up – to be updated regularly.

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Reference Resources



Related Websites