A Special Place for Social Economy Learning and Networking
By Suzanne Cook, SESN rep and Steering Committee Member, Social Economy Centre
“From July 3rd to 7th, 2008, I had the honour and privilege of attending the First International Social Economy Doctoral Summer School.” Suzanne Cook
The Need for a Doctoral Summer School Program
Recognizing the variety of approaches to the field of study known as the "third sector" around the world, the need to mentor the increasing number of young researchers entering the field who will become the next generation of academics, and the various disciplines (political science, business, sociology, economics, adult education, anthropology) they are working within, sometimes in isolation, the Network CINEFOGO (Network on the civil society and the new forms of governorship in Europe) and the EMES (European Research Network) saw the need for a doctoral training program for young scholars in the third sector that addresses theoretical and methodological research issues. The goal of the First International Summer School “Social enterprises, third sector, social economy, solidarity-based economy: Empirical and theoretical debates” was to enhance and widen important analytical frameworks available to future scholars, beyond the socio-political or non-profit perspective typically favoured.
The Perfect Location
To host this type of international program, a location was carefully selected. The University of Corsica (www.univ-corse.fr) was chosen. The university is located in Corte on the island of Corsica in France. Corsica is the most mountainous of the Mediterranean islands. Corsica is named the Island of Beauty because its landscapes are majestic.
The Bay of Calvi, Corsica
From July 3rd to 7th, 2008, I had the honour and privilege of attending the First International Social Economy Doctoral Summer School. CINEFOGO, EMES and the University of Corsica jointly organized the International Summer School Program. Approximately forty students from around the world, from 22 countries, and speaking many different first languages, attended the program. Twelve professors – members of the EMES and/or Cinefogo networks – presented both traditional and non-traditional disciplinary approaches to the field as part of the theoretical corpus of the summer school.
Lecture sessions led by faculty members
The format for the five day program consisted of lectures, debates, workshops and presentations. The highlight for me was the thesis groups where each doctoral student had the opportunity to present on his or her research for one hour in a small group setting.
An Enriching Experience for the Participants
The program was valuable for the wide variety of learning and networking opportunities provided. The one weakness with the program was that it did not address hands-on research issues as much as participants wanted, especially in regard to methodology.
The variety of perspectives represented during the program rivalled those we find among our social economy colleagues across Canada. However, there was an instant feeling of camaraderie, support and respect among all participants; all voices were heard and everyone contributed.
Annie McKitrick and Suzanne Cook attending the performance of Corsican group Voce Ventu
This feeling of intimacy may have come from the beauty of the location, the small size of the group, the sharing of meals and dormitory accommodation, the evening downtime and the many informal opportunities we had to spend time together. We had many adventures together, exploring what the island had to offer during down time. Some of us fit in two trips to the beach including a midnight dip, while others swam in the river beside the university during our hour and a half lunch breaks.
The Beach in Calvi
For me, the summer school was a wonderful opportunity. From this experience I gained insights into my thesis, including a broader international perspective on my research topic, and connected with a broad group of colleagues who I now call friends.
Will we create a similar program in Canada?
There are many benefits to providing a similar learning and networking opportunity in Canada. Annie McKittrick, Manager of the Canadian Social Economy Hub also participated in the Summer School in Corsica and there is interest in reproducing the program here. We will definitely keep you posted.
For more information on EMES, CINEFOGO, the leading researchers involved and the participants in the Summer School, visit the following websites:
For further information on the Social Economy Student Network, visit: