Co-op Network Studies (CNS) is a network established by a group of ten universities. Teaching within the framework of the network is developed, produced and coordinated by the Ruralia Institute of the University of Helsinki together with the other participating universities. The university network was established in 2005 and offers multidisciplinary, web-based minor subject courses and modules related to the co-operative sector and social economy. Moreover, the CNS coordination unit is actively involved in developing and investigating matters affecting the co-operative sector in cooperation with partners. The studies receive support and funding from Finnish co-operatives and mutual companies through the Finnish Co-operative Advisory Board, the Pellervo Society and the University of Helsinki.
The courses organised by Co-op Network Studies are open to all CNS students, students of the Open University of the University of Helsinki (basic courses), and students of other universities who have been granted a flexible study right under the Flexible Study Right Scheme (JOO).
Teaching is based on e-learning. Some courses can be completed either in Finnish or English.
The network’s teaching is closely connected with research on co-operatives, social economy and the business sector. The studies cover new co-operative types and new fields of co-operative activity that are becoming increasingly significant to society, such as the social welfare and healthcare industry. The courses cover the entire spectrum of co-operative activity as well as the special features of mutual undertakings. They include discussion on matters that are topical and essential to businesses, thereby creating value for co-operatives.
The Finnish Co-operative Advisory Board reinforces the network’s activities by participating in the planning and implementation of teaching together with the Pellervo Society.
Multidisciplinary teaching based on the network’s expertise diversely benefits the development of knowhow required in the co-operative sector and social economy as well as related values and attitudes. The courses of the CNS network are also beneficial for students who are not primarily interested in co-operatives or social economy.
The students of the university network can choose individual courses and more extensive study modules free of charge.
The study modules comprise five basic courses (Bachelor’s and Master’s studies) and five intermediate courses (Master’s and postgraduate studies). Students can choose individual courses and more extensive study modules. Students must complete three basic courses before beginning their intermediate studies (Co-operative Values and Principles I, Co-operative Law I and Co-operative Values and Principles as applied in Different Types of Enterprises I). The scope of each course is five (5) credits, except for students of the Aalto University School of Business and the Lappeenranta University of Technology, who must earn six (6) credits to complete each course.
Teaching focuses on the idea underlying co-operative activities and on co-operatives as business organisations. The module covers the principles and practices of co-operatives and the application of these to business operations, social economy, the third sector and new solution models in the co-operative sector. The co-operative sector is examined from the viewpoints of large and small co-operatives. The courses are taught by the multidisciplinary experts of the network universities, with the staff of the Ruralia Institute’s coordinating unit providing support for web-based courses.
The network currently comprises ten Finnish universities: