The New School Announces the Launch of The Institute for the Cooperative Digital Economy

New Institute Will Research the Co-op Sector of the Digital Economy

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 ICDE 2019 Research Fellows

New York, May 7, 2019 -- The New School has launched the Institute for the Cooperative Digital Economy (ICDE). The Institute examines digital businesses and projects that are owned and governed by workers and users.

The cooperative digital economy is an under-researched area in the fields of anthropology, political science, sociology, history, and economics. Through applied and theoretical knowledge, education, and policy analysis, the ICDE will study platform ownership and democratic governance. The Institute will inform policymakers in the U.S. and beyond.

The ICDE will serve as the research arm of the Platform Cooperativism Consortium, a growing international network that supports the cooperative platform economy, founded by Trebor Scholz, an Associate Professor at the Milano School for Policy, Management, and Environment and The New School. Scholz serves as the founding director of the ICDE, and holds a fellowship at Open Society Foundations, which partially supported the creation of the ICDE.

“In keeping with The New School’s legacy, this institute will break new ground by supporting critical, interdisciplinary approaches to studying the emerging platform co-op ecosystem,” said David Van Zandt, president of The New School.

Tim Marshall, Provost of The New School, said, “The Institute’s research of the digital economy, merging innovation and multi-disciplinary scholarship in service of social equity, continues the founding ethos and approach of The New School. So it’s fitting that the first and only institute solely dedicated to the cooperative digital economy, and its appeal to democratic governance and employee ownership, launches here. I offer my congratulations to Trebor Scholz for creating this center that will be at the forefront of this emerging and rapidly evolving area of study.”

The Institute convenes annual conferences, student fellowships, teach courses on the digital economy, publish, and host an annual cohort of Research Fellows from around the world. In 2019, the ICDE launches with its inaugural cohort of Research Fellows:

  • Luciana Bruno from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, will write a case study on Cataki, a platform cooperative for waste pickers.
  • Amelia Evans from Boston, Massachusetts will explore how to scale and fund the Cooperative Digital Economy through an investment fund.
  • Minsun Ji from Denver, Colorado will study the platform co-op movement in South Korea.
  • Morshed Mannan from Leiden, Netherlands will study the law and governance of protocol cooperatives.
  • Francis Mikwa Mwongela from Nairobi Kenya will explore the potential for platform cooperativism in Kenya.
  • Jonas Pentzien from Berlin, Germany will study legislative obstacles for platform co-ops in the United States, Germany & France.

Additional funding for the Institute has been provided by a newly launched Circle of Cooperators, with members including The Center for Cultural Innovation, Unionen, Stocksy United, Co-Operatives UK, Centro Studi Doc Foundation, the Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing at the School of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers University, Cooperatives for a Better World, Smart, Ontario Co-operative Association, WeHome, Datavest, Coompanion, and CoLab. If your organization is interested in supporting this work, write to [email protected] to learn how you can get involved.

ICDE’s international Council of Advisors is co-chaired by Wilma Liebman (former chair of the National Labor Relations Board) and David Park (Dean of Strategic Initiatives at Columbia University).

Industry leaders, policymakers and cooperative experts from across the globe have expressed their support for the Institute:

"Cooperatives across the country and around the globe must make their mark in the digital economy, and platform co-ops offer a clear model for the future of the internet. We wholeheartedly support the work of the Institute for the Cooperative Digital Economy in researching and deepening knowledge across disciplines for this growing sector." - Doug O'Brien, President & CEO, National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International

"Platform co-ops will give everyone something better than what Silicon Valley is doing to the world today. They offer a near-term, tangible alternative and this new Institute grounds this work in essential knowledge and policy." - Scott Heiferman, Co-founder and Chairman of Meetup

“Congratulations on the success of platform cooperativism – which started years ago and has become a major contribution to the social sciences.” - Saskia Sassen, Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology at Columbia University

Explore photos from our Launch Event held in New York City on April 22 here, and view the full live stream of the evening here.

Founded in 1919, The New School was established to advance academic freedom, tolerance, and experimentation. A century later, The New School remains at the forefront of innovation in higher education, inspiring more than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students to challenge the status quo in design and the social sciences, liberal arts, management, the arts, and media. The university welcomes thousands of adult learners annually for continuing education courses and public programs that encourage open discourse and social engagement. Through our online learning portals, research institutes, and international partnerships, The New School maintains a global presence.



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