Alternatives in and to Capitalism: Hands-on from Cascadian Grain to Basque Cooperatives

Winter 2019
Spring 2019
OlympiaStudy Abroad
Olympia +
study abroad option
Class Size: 50
Credits per quarter

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Taught by

Feminist Theory, Cultural Studies
 There are many problems with capitalism, but is an alternative economic system worth striving for? Is it feasible? After more than a century of theoretical studies and practical experiments, we know a lot about these questions, but the answers remain speculative. Is there a way to imagine economics not as a framework we’re destined to live in, but only as a constraint we can minimize in order to achieve a more humane world?
This advanced program will embrace economics, political economy, feminist cultural studies, community building, artisanship, and ecological sustainability. We'll use theory and history to examine capitalism’s initial basis in colonialism and the standardization of goods and livelihoods. We'll travel both locally–to the Cascadia Grain Conference–and internationally–to Mondragon cooperatives in the Basque region of Spain. Be prepared to take seriously diverse theoretical perspectives, including Marxist, anarchist, feminist, mainstream, Austrian, and community economics as well as to engage with real-world experience. Program work will include lectures, guest speakers, seminars, films, workshops, field trips, student presentations, and major research projects examining and imagining alternatives both in and to capitalism.
In winter quarter we will examine the nature of capitalism, and its relationship to urgent societal problems like inequality and ecological survival. Students will study introductory microeconomics in a broad context. Emphasis will be on students researching and imagining individual and community-based alternative economic projects within our existing system–including those which address the value of higher education in the current moment.
Spring quarter will be taught solely by Peter Dorman. The focus will shift to entire societies and even a globalized world. Are there alternatives to capitalism at the system level that can make possible much higher levels of individual fulfillment as well as collective, planetary well-being?  Students will extend their research from local to international case studies, including the opportunity to visit the Mondragon, the largest and most innovative cooperative system in the world.

Study Abroad: There will also be a three-week study abroad option at the Mondragon cooperative network in the Basque region of Spain. Credit equivalencies will be offered in comparative economic systems, political economy, and cultural studies.

Study abroad:

All questions regarding payment should be directed to the teaching faculty of this program.

1.             Special Expenses: $800 airfare and $50 ground transport   (Estimated expenses students will cover themselves)

2.             Required Student Fee:  $3350   (Fee covers group expenses for services organized by college)

3.             Administrative Fee:     $400  (Nonrefundable deposit to cover administrative costs of running study abroad)

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in:

social sciences, social justice advocacy and activism, public policy, cultural studies


Credits per quarter



Online learning:
  • Hybrid Online Learning - This offering delivers < 25% of its instruction online, rather than via face-to-face contact between you and your instructors.

In Winter quarter- $140 for overnight transportation, accommodations, food, and entrance fees for Cascadia Grain Conference.

Class Standing: Sophomore–Senior
Class Size: 50

Scheduled for: Day

Final schedule and room assignments:

First meeting:

Monday, April 1, 2019 - 9:30 am
SEM 2 D3109 - Seminar

Located in: Olympia

May be offered again in:

Yes, in 2020-21 or as appropriate to meet student demand for the program, as well as our exchange relationship with Mondragon.

2018-11-27$140 fee for winter field trip
2018-11-26prerequisites requirement for winter removed