Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 3 hours / session

Course Description

This course will examine literature and practice regarding community-owned enterprise as an alternative means of increasing community participation and development. The use of cooperatives, credit unions, land trusts, and limited stock ownership enterprises for increasing community participation and empowerment will be examined. Students may work with two community initiatives in Mattapan, one to establish a youth-run community enterprise and another to develop a locally-run (but regionally affiliated) credit union. Students may also work on a number of projects in conjunction with the Cooperative Development Institute (CDI): a biodiesel production facility project that needs waste vegetable oil collection organized in Boston (maybe working with the City Council on a collection system or working with farmers to back haul it; a Mass health care project that is just in inception - organizing a state-wide meeting to demo the Ithaca model). Other CDI projects include a feasibility study for an herb processing facility in Western Massachusetts; and, an online community product development project to support consensus building among large groups of member-owners of non-profits and cooperatives (now in the software refinement, business planning, and pilot marketing and sales stage built on a volunteer effort). Students will attend four skill-building workshops conducted at MIT in conjunction with CDI CEO Lynn Benander on Coop organization, financing, and management.


Students are responsible for one 10-15 page paper, worth 30 percent of their grade, on a topic related to community-owned enterprise and civic participation. Students are also responsible for producing a 'deliverable,' such as a business plan or foundation proposal, for their client. The deliverable will count for 60 percent of the grade, the remaining 10 percent of the grade depends on classroom participation.