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Multi­discipli­nary & Innovative Courses


Cooperative Law for Sustainable Development


University of Helsinki, Ruralia Institute, Co-op Network Studies




900-1490 EUR Learn more




Hagen Henrÿ
Pekka Hytinkoski

Target Students

Advanced law students or students from other disciplines with a strong interest in cooperative law.


If sustainable development is to be pursued seriously, enterprises need to take on an active role. They do so already by abiding by the slowly juridising Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) rules. However, as if the legal form of enterprises did not matter, the debate on the CSR rarely distinguishes between enterprise forms. As a consequence, and despite gradual changes, cooperative enterprise law continues to be a marginal research and teaching subject. This mismatches the high number of an estimated one billion members in cooperatives around the world and also fails to appreciate the corresponding economic and social impact of this enterprise type. The shortcoming is further demonstrated by the repeated show of crisis resilience by cooperatives and the growing awareness that sustainable development issues must also be addressed by and through enterprises. International governmental and non-governmental legal texts are recommending ways of how law should address the issue.

The course is to create an understanding of the factors which shape cooperative law and of its relevance for sustainable development. The term ‘cooperative law’ also incorporates other fields of law as they impact on the structure and operations of cooperatives, such as labour law, tax law, competition law and accounting and bookkeeping standards, as well as law-making and implementation procedures.

As students come from different national backgrounds, reference to specific cooperative laws will only be made by way of an example.

The course is complemented by visits to and presentations by cooperative organisations.

Learning objectives

At the end of the course the students will have an understanding of the rationale of cooperative law in relation to sustainable development and as the law which institutionalises the idea of cooperative enterprises as a form of enterprise within a necessary diversity of forms.

The students will be able to distinguish the cooperative form of enterprise from other forms, especially from the stock company. This includes the objective, management and governance of cooperatives, the nature and structure of cooperative capital and the control mechanisms.

Course format and teaching methods

Introductory presentations by the teacher; discussions; presentations by the students; field visits.

Means and criteria of assessment

Grading scale: 5 = excellent 4 = very good 3 = good 2 = average 1 = poor 0 = fail.

Assessment is based on:
• Reading and participation during lectures 30%
• In-class assignments 20%
• Written exam 50%

Course Schedule

Location: City Centre Campus

Monday 6.8.2018 Registration begins
Tuesday 7.8.2018 Registration continues, HSS Opening Ceremony
Wednesday 8.8.2018 Course begins

Preliminary Course Schedule (pdf)