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About the Social Economy Project

Enhancing Studies & Practice of Social Economy and Social Capital in Higher Education

Not sure what the social economy is? Click here

Summary of the research within the project

What is the project about?

We aim to gain an in-depth understanding of the social economy system in order to promote the study and practice of this field in higher education                         

How will we do this?

Through an empirical study based on an (e) survey, focus groups, interviews and case studies with  the people who are working in the field. This will be carried out by partners and associate partners in different  geographical regions worldwide.

What will we do with this information?

We will create a handbook that will inform higher education institutions who are interested in developing curricula about social economy to be taught at their universities.

What will be in the handbook?

(Draft outline of chapters)

Chapter i: Principles and values - what knowledge and values do people in the social economy claim to have?

Chapter ii: Identity, territory and profile of organisations - who are they? Where are they?

Chapter iii: Ways of working (modus operandi) - law, project management, administrative, operational.  How do they work? What differentiates them from other economic systems?

Chapter iv: Professional competences - what knowledge, skills and behaviour are needed for the job?

Chapter v: ICT - good practices within the field. How does ICT make their work more effective?

Chapter vi: Social capital and political influence - how is it built? What sustains it?

Chapter vii: Social responsibility and transformation - how do organisations/enterprises bring about positive social change? How are they accountable?

Chapter viii: Social enterprise incubators - how can private, public and social systems work together effectively?

Transversal throughout chapters: Curriculum and pedagogical design - what needs to be taught and how?


Why do we think this is important?

Map social economy projectUniversities should offer broad and in-depth knowledge and understanding  of ways of organising economic life. We believe in a people-centred approach to economic value. We also believe that Higher Education should provide education and training which serves the community. 

If Higher Education is to remain relevant it needs to review its ethos, purpose and curricula. It needs to consider human well-being as well as wealth creation.

This international, three year project aims to gain an in-depth knowledge of the nature, origins and practice of people-centred economic approaches.  This is the social economy system with social capital as its backbone and it has its own values framework, thinking and behavioural model. It seeks to make this more accessible to higher education students. The project also seeks to understand and give recommendations on how this system could interact and link more efficiently with other economic systems and mechanisms, such as corporate social responsibility, to enhance the values of equality, efficiency and reciprocity for human development.


General objectives

  • Strategically develop the quality and attractiveness of studies of social economy and social capital in higher education in Europe, by drawing upon worldwide expertise and experience.
  • Build a knowledge and practice base which encompasses values and experience within the field of social economy from a wide range of geographical areas, through dialogical action.
  • Review and improve current European higher education curricula in the subject to increase its relevance to European, African, Asian and North and South American higher education students and workers in the field.
  • Promote intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding between higher education teachers from the geographical scope of the project.

Target groups: The consortium universities, the wider community of higher education teaching professionals and course designers in Europe and worldwide; organizations of the 3rd sector/system


Main activities

  • Design, apply and analyse a comprehensive (e)-survey and interviews with practitioners in the social economy system
  • Write a reference handbook, based on the above, to inform higher education curriculum design


Expected outcomes 

  • A reference handbook published for curriculum design based on the findings of the (e)-survey and case studies
  • Publish academic articles in international journals, regarding the social economy, social capital and corporate social responsibility knowledge, values and practice, and the challenges to the full inclusion of these areas in higher education
  • A business plan for consultancy and handbook distribution to promote effective course design in the field in European and non-European universities
  • An increase in the interest of non-Europeans in following social economy courses within the consortium universities
  • Consultancy to higher education institutions and government bodies


Dissemination of results through 

  • Publications in academic journals
  • International conferences organized and attended
  • Website of project information and findings



As well as the Erasmus Mundus programme, the project gained the support of United Nations, Alliance of Civilization unit, the Erasmus Mundus Students and Alumni Association and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation of the United Kingdom. Over 50 universities worldwide have become Associate Partners of the project.  It is expected that this list will increase as other universities and organizations from the private and public sector are showing interest in becoming either:

  • Associate partners (involved in the implementation of the project in their own countries).
  • Network facilitators (making links between project and organisations interested).
  • Friends of the programme (interested in receiving information on how the project evolves).