World's First Research Conference on Social Economy

Changing how business is done is at the forefront of a four-day conference next week in Victoria, hosted by the University of Victoria’s BC Institute for Co-operative Studies (BCICS).

“Strengthening and Building Communities: The Social Economy in a Changing World” is the first conference of its kind to bring academics and practitioners from around the globe together in an academic research setting. Organizations within the “social economy” put their profits back into their communities or into expanding their own services. They include non-profit associations and co-operatives and provide everything from banking services and health care to housing and food production. Local examples include Mountain Equipment Co-Op, Coast Capital Credit Union, Vancity, Island Farms, International Women’s Catering Co-op and Women in Need.

BCICS is hosting the conference with funding through a national research grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

“Although the social economy is a well-known concept in Europe and Latin America, it’s relatively new on this continent,” says UVic history professor Dr. Ian MacPherson, co-director of the Canadian Social Economy Hub and the director of BCICS. “The SSHRC funding is allowing researchers and practitioners to develop a Canadian approach to the social economy and study public polities and practices that provide an enabling environment for the social economy to thrive.” The conference will showcase over 150 research presentations and will feature well-known social economy researchers.

The conference is jointly organized by the Canadian Social Economy Hub, CIRIEC International and CIRIEC Canada. CIRIEC (Centre international de recherche et d’information sur l’économie publique, sociale et cooperative) is the foremost international organization concerned with the development of the social economy. The conference provides a forum for senior practitioners, policy makers, social entrepreneurs, community leaders and government officials to explore how the social economy strengthens community networks and supports alternative business models.

Presentations will feature research at both local and international levels, with the focus on social economy and globalization, governance and the reconfiguration of governing bodies and the social economy in communities (with an international view).

The conference takes place in English, French and Spanish, and begins at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 22 at the Victoria Conference Centre. Late registration is still available by calling 472-4976. There is also a free public event that will explore social economy in the local context, taking place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 25 in the Balmoral Room at the Fairmont Empress Hotel.

Information is also available at and

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Media contacts

Annie McKitrick (BC Institute for Co-operative Studies) at 250-472-4976, cell 250-216-4857 or

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Keywords: worlds, research, conference, social, economy

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