You’ve probably heard of blockchain, crypto, Distributed Autonomous Organizations (DAOs), and cooperatives for a while now. Enroll in this pop-up course to think about them concurrently, to improve your knowledge of cooperatives and distributed technology, whether you are an expert or a newbie, whether you have a firm grasp on these technologies or are completely new to them, whether you are passionate about crypto or are wary of it. We’ll trawl through the good, the hype, and the fraudulent aspects of Web 3 and cooperatives to critically examine crypto politics, genuine opportunities, and practicalities for the co-op curious.
This pop-up course will only run if at least 100 people enroll.
June 25th - 10.30am to 12pm (EDT)
with Mohammad Zia (ITS)
What is blockchain? What does it have to do with cryptocurrency? What is the difference between a cryptocurrency and a central bank digital currency? What exactly is an NFT and how can it be used to protect ownership? And where do DAOs fit in?
If you are a complete beginner to blockchain and curious about the questions above, you are in the right place. This seminar will introduce complete beginners to the different facets of the crypto economy. First, we will do a quick overview of blockchain and the problem the technology seeks to solve. Second, we will discuss cryptocurrencies and CBDCs, two of the most studied applications of blockchain technology in the finance sector. Third, we will do a basic review of the innovative technology behind NFTs and DAOs. We will end the seminar with a quick discussion on how these new technologies can advance socio-economic impact.
Blockchain and cryptocurrencies have conquered space in the financial sector. But can these technologies go further, offering application possibilities in the public sector? By enabling decentralized governance, blockchain presents a promising future for elections, improving public services and increasing government transparency. In this class, we will cover the political and social aspects of blockchain. The presentation will be based on a conceptual review and presentation of practical cases.
June 25th - 3.15pm to 4.45pm (EDT)
with Philémon Poux (PCC)
Common-Pool Resources (CPR) are found across the world and provide inspiring examples of sustainable governance. For over 50 years, scholars and practitioners, in particular Elinor Ostrom, have studied how communities set up rules tailored to the resource to ensure efficient and adequate governance. This has allowed to identify a certain number of common features that help analyse, compare and and design governance situations. In particular, they often include monitoring rules, gradual sanctions and a form of trust between commoners.
Blockchain-based governance tools offer solutions for transparent and automated decision-making processes (from voting to permanently recording minutes of off-line General Assemblies) and could complement the instruments for the governance of CPR. This class presents a framework to understand how recourse to blockchain-based tools modifies the traditional structure of CPR governance. In particular, we will discuss how having access to a decentralized, automated and transparent tool modifies the way the community design their rules. The theoretical discussion will be illustrated with the case study of rural land commons in Ghana.
June 26th - 10.30am to 12pm (EDT)
with Kelsie Nabben (RMIT)
This discussion explores the question: 'Do cooperatives provide a framework for "Decentralised Autonomous Organisations?"’ Following a brief history of DAOs, this session starts by exploring some of the fundamental precepts that guide DAO investigation and design: what is being organised, what is being decentralised, what is being automated, and who or what is being made autonomous?
We will then outline the foundational principles of cooperatives and compare them to real examples from operational DAOs to analyse the potential opportunities and limitations of "just DAOing it". We will end by highlighting some possible future directions for DAOs and participatory governance.
June 26th - 12.30am to 2pm (EDT)
with Primavera de Filippi (CNRS)
Blockchain technology comes with the promise of facilitating the coordination of shared resource pools, enabling new models of non-hierarchical governance where intelligence is spread on the edges of the network instead of being concentrated at the center. In particular, Decentralized Autonomous Organisations (DAOs) can give rise to new forms of commons-based governance to manage the operations and promote the long-term sustainability of commons-based peer-production (CBPP) communities. These decentralized organizations could replace the hierarchical format of current institutions, enabling commons-based communities to operate democratically and horizontally. Instead of relying on traditional top-down decision making procedures, blockchains allow for such procedures to be entirely crowdsourced, delegating to the community’s collective intelligence the responsibility to monitor and evaluate its own achievements.
Yet, these systems also suffer from legal issues and governance implications that cannot be ignored. DAOs do not come with any legal personality or legal capacity, hence it is difficult for them to interact and transact with existing legal entities, like companies or traditional organisations. Moreover, the governance of DAOs is usually done via token-based decision-making which can lead to significant concentration of power. This course will explore the potentiality and drawbacks of blockchain technology and DAOs, and analyse ways in which these drawbacks can be overcome.
June 26th - 3.15pm to 4.45pm (EDT)
with Morshed Mannan (Max Weber)
Participation is often at the heart of why people wish to form cooperatives, with democratic member control being a part of the ICA's Statement of the Cooperative Identity. While economic factors, such as job creation and raising income levels, are central drivers for establishing worker cooperatives, creating a more participatory workplace is also an important goal for many cooperators. Yet, the issue of participation raises some major dilemmas. The first is deciding on the issues over which members will be allowed to decide, the degree of their influence, and the organization levels in which they will be involved (Bernstein, 1976). The second is managing the tension between widening and deepening participation--especially when cooperatives operate transnationally (Mannan, 2018)--while building a viable business, which may require quick, sometimes unpopular decisions (Michaud & Audebrand, 2022). Both dilemmas are also prominent issues for certain decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) that operate as collectives/cooperatives.
This lecture will first provide an overview of how cooperative scholars, such as Bernstein, Cornforth, Birchall, Michaud (among others), have addressed the issue of designing participation for large and/or transnational cooperatives and sustaining active member participation therein. It will then turn to the lessons that this body of scholarship offers to the nascent group of cooperative/collective DAOs (e.g., dOrg) that are currently emerging, given their unique features, such as their transnational, pseudonymous membership, and their geographically untethered nature. This will include an evaluation of how these cooperative/collective DAOs have, through both technical mechanisms and organizational innovations, sought to overcome some of the common critiques of large-scale participation, like the lack of trust that may exist between members or between members and the organization.
Online in real time. The recordings will be available for 6 months after the course.
If you have any queries or problems registering, please contact ITS at email@example.com
Registration will close the day before the start of the first class or when the space limit is reached.
We issue certificates of completion for students who attend 75% of the live classes or a certificate of participation for students who watch all recorded classes within 15 days of the end of the course. The certificates can be used as proof of additional hours, with a workload of 18 hours for this course, including 9 hours for online classes and 9 hours for access to supplementary material.
The Platform Cooperativism Consortium (PCC) supports the cooperative platform economy.
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